Why do Patients Forget to Take Immunosuppression Medications and Miss Appointments: Can a Mobile Phone App Help?

Journal Article

Published By

JMIR Public Health Surveillance, Vol. 2

April 2016



Kidney transplant recipients must adhere to their immunosuppressive medication regimen. However, non-adherence remains a major problem.


The aim of this paper is to determine how kidney transplant recipients remember to take their medications, and assess their perception and beliefs about adherence to immunosuppressive medications and barriers to medication adherence. In addition, we aim to assess perception and beliefs about willingness to use a hypothetical, mobile phone app to improve adherence.


We conducted a qualitative study that included an average of three home or workplace visits of kidney transplant recipients (N=16) from a single urban transplant center.


The qualitative study revealed that transplant recipients understood the importance of taking their immunosuppressive medications and this motivated them to take their medications. The visits showed that most participants have incorporated medication use into their daily lives and that any minor deviation from daily routines could result in non-adherence. Participants also reported other barriers to adherence. All participants were interested in using an app to remind them to take their medication; however, they reported potential barriers to using the app.


Although kidney transplant recipients understood the importance of medication adherence, there were significant barriers to maintaining adherence. Participants also reported interest in using a mobile phone app.

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