Patients with breast cancer who have greater negative beliefs regarding the challenges of their aromatase inhibitor treatment are approximately 70% more likely to be nonadherent to their anticancer medications, a study published in the journal Cancer has shown.1

Although poor adherence to endocrine therapy is not unusual for breast cancer survivors, it unknown whether perceived barriers impact treatment nonadherence. Therefore, researchers sought to evaluate the association between health beliefs and adherence to aromatase inhibitors.

For the study, investigators surveyed 437 postmenopausal women with early stage, estrogen receptor¬–positive breast cancer who were currently receiving aromatase inhibitor therapy.

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All participants completed the 3-factor Health Beliefs and Medication Adherence in Breast Cancer scale, which evaluated perceived susceptibility to breast cancer, perceived benefits of aromatase inhibitor treatment, and perceived barriers to treatment. Adherence data were obtained from patients’ medical charts.

Results showed that 21.3% were nonadherent to hormonal therapy.

The investigators found that patients who perceived greater barriers to treatment were 71% more likely to demonstrate nonadherence behaviors by the end of therapy compared with those who reported fewer barriers to treatment (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 1.71; 95% CI, 1.03-2.86; P =.04).

However, greater perceived susceptibility to cancer recurrence and perceived benefits of treatment were not associated with adherence to aromatase inhibitors.

The study further revealed that minority women had significantly lower perceived susceptibility to breast cancer recurrence but higher perceived barriers to aromatase inhibitor treatment (P <.05).

The findings suggest that interventions addressing women’s perceived barriers to aromatase inhibitor treatment are needed to improve adherence in breast cancer survivors.


1. Brier MJ, Chambless DL, Gross R, Chen J, Mao JJ. Perceived barriers to treatment predict adherence to aromatase inhibitors among breast cancer survivors. Cancer. 2016 Aug 29. doi: 10.1200/cncr.30318. [Epub ahead of print]