Medication affordability discussions with older adults in primary care



Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Publication Title

Exploratory Research in Clinical and Social Pharmacy




Conversation, Cost, Elderly, Medication, Primary care


Introduction: Cost is a major barrier to medication accessibility. While a minority of adults experience problems affording their medications, older adults are particularly vulnerable due to increased polypharmacy and fixed incomes. Clinicians can help reduce cost-related non-adherence and improve medication affordability; however, opportunities to improve affordability are often missed due to failure of the patient or clinician to discuss the issue. Objective: Identify the incidence and resolution of cost-related conversations between patients and clinicians during primary care visits. Methods: We conducted this quality improvement project at a primary care office. Student pharmacists observed in-person encounters with patients ≥65 years of age and documented the incidence of cost-related conversations and who initiated the conversation. After the visit, they asked if the patient had affordability issues. Patients and clinicians were blinded to the study purpose and hypothesis. Results: Students observed 79 primary care visits. Cost conversations (medication or non-medication related) occurred in 37% (29/79) of visits. Having concerns about affordability did not impact the likelihood of conversation about non-medication related healthcare costs (RR = 1.21 95% CI 0.35–4.19, p = 0.67) or medication related costs (RR = 0.86 95% CI 0.13–5.65, p = 1.0). Conclusion: Our results indicated that cost conversations did not routinely occur at our site. Failure to discuss costs, especially for patients with underlying cost concerns, may lead to cost related non-adherence and worse outcomes.

Open Access