(HealthDay News) — Reading clinical notes can help patients to understand why medications are prescribed and improves medication adherence for some patients, according to a brief research report published online May 28 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Catherine M. DesRoches, Dr.P.H., from Harvard Medical School and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and colleagues conducted an online survey of patients who participated in the original OpenNotes pilot. Patients were provided with online access to clinical notes; eligible patients had logged into the portal at least once in the previous 12 months.

The researchers found that notes made patients more likely to take their medication as prescribed for 14 percent of patients from practices associated with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Geisinger who reported having taken or been prescribed medications in the previous 12 months. Thirty-three percent of patients at practices associated with the University of Washington rated notes as extremely important for assisting with their regimen. At all three sites, most patients reported that note reading helped them understand why medications were prescribed, answered their questions, and made them feel more comfortable with and in control of their medications. Very few patients reported that notes made them feel worried or confused.

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“Our survey results suggest that reading notes may help many patients manage and adhere to their medication,” the authors write.

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