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The sources of bias in medication adherence research have not been comprehensively explored. We aimed to identify biases expected to affect adherence research and to develop a framework for mapping these onto the phases of adherence (initiation, implementation, and discontinuation). A literature search was conducted, key papers were reviewed and a Catalogue of Bias was consulted. The specific biases related to adherence measurement and metrics were mapped onto the phases of adherence using a tabular matrix. Twenty-three biases were identified, of which 11 were specifically relevant to adherence measures and metrics. The mapping framework showed differences in the numbers and types of biases associated with each measure and metric while highlighting those common to many adherence study designs (e.g. unacceptability bias, apprehension bias). The framework will inform the design of adherence studies and the development of risk of bias tools for adherence research.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Clin Pharmacol

Publication Date



adherence measures, adherence research, bias, medication adherence