The impact of religion on medication compliance

December 10, 2008

Religiously-motivated fasting may affect glaucoma medication compliance rates, according to study results presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).

Religiously-motivated fasting may affect glaucoma medication compliance rates, according to study results presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).

Following on from an initial study assessing medication compliance rates in Muslims during the mandatory fasting period of Ramadan, Nishant Kumar, MBBS of University Hospital, Liverpool, UK and colleagues analyzed 350 surveys completed by respondents self-identified as members of the following faiths: Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Bahá'í.

Dr Kumar’s initial study in Muslims showed significantly reduced medication compliance rates during Ramadan, as, during this period, Muslims abstain from fluid as well as food. This period of non-compliance was significant enough that an adverse effect on vision was possible. In the new study, the majority of Hindu, Muslim and Jain respondents stated that they would be unlikely to use eye drops during periods of fasting except in the case of severe pain or advanced disease, while the respondents of other religious beliefs stated that they were likely to remain compliant with their medication.

The team concluded that these periods of fasting have a potential impact on medication compliance, and therefore disease progression; it is essential that ophthalmologists are aware of their patients’ religious beliefs in order to formulate appropriate disease management plans.