Standard Definitions of Adherence for Infrequent yet Repeated Health Behaviors

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Abstract:

Objective : To present common language for defining adherence of infrequent yet repeated health behaviors.

Methods : We illustrate methodological and conceptual issues using human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination and screening mammography study data as examples.

Results : Adherence rates of infrequent, repeated behaviors varied widely depending on how adherence was defined and measured. We advocate use of 3 standard definitions of adherence: initiation of behavior (initiation), adherence to most recent opportunity (on-schedule), and timely adherence across multiple opportunities (maintenance or completion).

Conclusions : The proposed framework has cross-cutting implications for research and practice. Standardizing adherence metrics may facilitate comparisons across studies of health behaviors practiced at infrequent yet repeated intervals.

Keywords: HPV vaccination; adherence; diffusion; maintenance; mammography

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5993/AJHB.34.6.4

Affiliations: 1 AHRQ Fellow in Health Services Research, Duke University-Division of General Internal Medicine, Durham VAMC-Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care, Durham, NC.

Publication date: November 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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