Comparing measures of medication taking in a pharmacotherapy trial for cocaine dependence

Marc Mooney, Shelly Sayre, Charles Green, Howard Rhoades, Joy Schmitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to compare compliance estimates based on 3 methods of measuring medication taking: self-report, an electronic medication event measurement system (MEMS), and a biochemical tracer (riboflavin). During the first 4 weeks of a placebo-controlled, double-blind trial, cocaine-dependent participants (N = 55) took their assigned study medications and provided data to assess daily pill-taking behavior. MEMS-based estimates of medication compliance were substantially lower than riboflavin or self-report (28%, 78%, and 87%, respectively). Using MEMS as a reference or "gold standard," self-report, riboflavin, and their combination demonstrated poor ability to detect non-compliance (AUCs < 0.60). Medication compliance rates vary depending on measurement method, with subjective reports more likely to overestimate actual pill-taking behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-173
Number of pages9
JournalAddictive Disorders and their Treatment
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2004


  • MEMS
  • Medication compliance
  • ROC curve
  • Riboflavin
  • Self report

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