Dermatology

July 2011

Research

Cholesterol lowering medication

Patients’ knowledge, attitudes and experiences

Volume 40, No.7, July 2011 Pages 519-522

Angela Gialamas

Paul Aylward

Simon Vanlint

Nigel Stocks

Background

Despite evidence of the efficacy of cholesterol lowering medication, it is known there is suboptimal patient adherence to this medication. The aim of this study is to investigate patient knowledge, attitudes and experiences of their cholesterol lowering medication, and explore patient views regarding programs to support self management.

Methods

A semiqualitative exploratory study using semistructured telephone interviews of adult patients with poorly controlled hyperlipidaemia.

Results

Twenty-six patients were interviewed. Most patients could name at least one risk factor for their hyperlipidaemia. Approximately one-third of patients reported they did not understand the reasons they were taking their cholesterol medication and over two-thirds did not understand how their medication worked. Most reported that their general practitioner was their main source of information about cholesterol. Many expressed a desire to be better informed about cholesterol, its risk factors and medication and that an information session at their local general practice clinic would be useful.

Discussion

This study provides preliminary evidence that patients on long term statin therapy may have gaps in their knowledge about their condition and treatment options and a desire to be better informed.

Hyperlipidaemia is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), which is itself the leading cause of mortality in Australia.1 In 2005–2006, hyperlipidaemia was the fourth most frequently managed chronic problem in Australian general practice, accounting for 3.4 per 100 general practice encounters.2 Trials have demonstrated that lowering cholesterol with statin therapy reduces both the progression of coronary artery disease (CAD) and mortality in patients with established CAD.3–4 When used in primary prevention, statins are cost effective and may reduce the relative risk of CVD mortality in patients at a high absolute risk of CVD.5,6 However, patient adherence to cholesterol lowering medication has been shown to be suboptimal.7–8

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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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