Study Investigates How Health Literacy Affects Adherence to Oral Cancer Medications

June 04, 2018

Ensuring patients adhere to oral medications for cancer can be a complex task, especially if patients have low health literacy. Oral medications for cancer continue to be more prevalent, but rates of adherence to oral therapy vary widely by population, cancer type, and level of education. At the 2018 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting, ( researchers presented the results of a study that hypothesized health literacy’s connection to oral medication adherence and whether a multilevel intervention approach would result in greater adherence.

In this active, randomized, controlled trial (, patients were randomized (1:1) to receive clinical care plus education by an RN or the addition of a multilevel intervention, including:

Adult patients with cancer on any oral cancer medication were eligible for the study. Exclusion criteria included:

A baseline of health literacy was formed using the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine ( The study’s primary outcome is focused on oral medication adherence (e.g., the expected medication refills completed), with secondary outcomes focused on follow-up visit adherence, adherence to other prescribed medications, healthcare use, and other healthcare outcomes.

According to the researchers, with a one-sided alpha = 0.05, the target sample size of 110 patients will yield 90% power to test the primary hypothesis.

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