Public Release: 

LA BioMed researcher to examine why some patients ignore doctors' orders

New grant awarded for study of dialysis patients' medication adherence

LA BioMed


IMAGE: Dr. Jenny Shen, LA BioMed researcher, is studying why people ignore their doctors' orders regarding medication and how to improve adherence to medication regimens. view more

Credit: LA BioMed

LOS ANGELES - (August 6, 2015) - Taking medications as prescribed is challenging for many patients, and following doctors' orders regarding medication often varies over time and among different patients. The consequences of failing to follow the prescribed medication regimen range from mild to life-threatening, depending on the medication and the illness or condition being treated.

To help improve patients' adherence to prescribed medication regimens, Jenny Shen, MD, a Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed) researcher, is launching a study of medication adherence among patients with dialysis, a life-saving treatment for many Americans with life-threatening end-stage kidney disease. She will be examining why patients follow or don't follow their physicians' orders regarding their doses and the timing of cardiovascular medications. She also will study how the patients' decisions about their medication affect their health.

"We are going to study why variations in medication adherence exist, and if these variations are associated with an increased risk of heart attacks, stroke or death," Dr. Shen said. "We will also be researching to determine if the risks change depending on a patient's race and ethnicity. Results of our research will aid in the development of tools to improve adherence in this patient population, which may improve their health."

She said patients on dialysis take an average of 15 pills per day, far more than most other patients, and their compliance with their medication regimen is below 50%. Patients on dialysis also are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, with 42% dying from a cardiovascular-related cause.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health awarded Dr. Shen $906,054 for her study, entitled "Trajectories of Adherence to Cardiovascular Medications in Patients on Dialysis." This award is for five years.


About LA BioMed

Founded in 1952, LA BioMed is one of the country's leading nonprofit independent biomedical research institutes. It has approximately 100 principal researchers conducting studies into improved diagnostics and treatments for cancer, inherited diseases, infectious diseases, illnesses caused by environmental factors and more. It also educates young scientists and provides community services, including prenatal counseling and childhood nutrition programs. LA BioMed is academically affiliated with the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and located on the campus of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. For more information, please visit

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