Effectiveness of eHealth interventions in improving medication adherence for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma: Systematic review

Mieke H. J. Schulte, Jiska J. Aardoom, Lisa Loheide-Niesmann, Leonie L. L. Verstraete, Hans C. Ossebaard, Heleen Riper*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Poor treatment adherence in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma is a global public health concern with severe consequences in terms of patient health and societal costs. A potentially promising tool for addressing poor compliance is eHealth. Objective: This review investigates the effects of eHealth interventions on medication adherence in patients with COPD or asthma. Methods: A systematic literature search was conducted in the databases of Cochrane Library, PsycINFO, PubMed, and Embase for studies with publication dates between January 1, 2000, and October 29, 2020. We selected randomized controlled trials targeting adult patients with COPD or asthma, which evaluated the effectiveness of an eHealth intervention on medication adherence. The risk of bias in the included studies was examined using the Cochrane Collaboration's risk of bias tool. The results were narratively reviewed. Results: In total, six studies focusing on COPD and seven focusing on asthma were analyzed. Interventions were mostly internet-based or telephone-based, and could entail telemonitoring of symptoms and medication adherence, education, counseling, consultations, and self-support modules. Control groups mostly comprised usual care conditions, whereas a small number of studies used a face-to-face intervention or waiting list as the control condition. For COPD, the majority of eHealth interventions were investigated as an add-on to usual care (5/6 studies), whereas for asthma the majority of interventions were investigated as a standalone intervention (5/7 studies). Regarding eHealth interventions targeting medication adherence for COPD, two studies reported nonsignificant effects, one study found a significant effect in comparison to usual care, and three reported mixed results. Of the seven studies that investigated eHealth interventions targeting medication adherence in asthma, three studies found significant effects, two reported nonsignificant effects, and two reported mixed effects. Conclusions: The mixed results on the effectiveness of eHealth interventions in improving treatment adherence for asthma and COPD are presumably related to the type, context, and intensity of the interventions, as well as to differences in the operationalization and measurement of adherence outcomes. Much remains to be learned about the potential of eHealth to optimize treatment adherence in COPD and asthma.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere29475
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021

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