Research shows that patients' belief in God influences how likely they are to be adherent to asthma medication.
The team, led by Brian Ahmedani (Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, Michigan, USA), found that religious people who believed that "God determined asthma control," were less adherent to their medication than less religious people.
As reported in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Ahmedani and colleagues recruited 1025 people with asthma, aged 5-56 years, who were participating in a clinical trial to improve inhaled corticosteroid adherence, called the Adherence Feedback for Improving Respiratory Medication Use (AFFIRM) trial.
All the participants, or their parents, filled out a survey based on the Multidimensional Health Locus of Control scale at enrollment to assess the extent to which they believed that their asthma control was strongly influenced by God, doctors, other people, chance, and internal factors. Baseline medication adherence was estimated from electronic prescription and pharmacy records.
Generally, medication adherence was low, at 36%. Patients who stated they had a strong belief that God was influencing their asthma control were a significant 18% less likely to be adherent to their medication than those who did not.
This relationship was stronger in religious African Americans than in religious White patients, with respective reductions in medication adherence of 32% and 11%. Belief that God was influencing asthma outcomes also had a greater effect on medication adherence in adults than in children, with reductions in adherence among these groups of 19% and 16%, respectively.
"This study demonstrates that patients who believe that God (or a higher power) determines their health are less likely to be adherent to their asthma controller medication," write the authors, although they clarify that the results show that "patients who believe that God determines health outcomes were less adherent - not that those who believe in God were less adherent."
Ahmedani and team say that physicians should take religious beliefs into account when prescribing medication to their patients, as they could have a significant effect on adherence.
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