Unfortunately non-adherence to medication, which describes what happens when patients fail to take their medication as it is prescribed, is quite common – in particular among those suffering chronic disease.
Patients may be reluctant to tell their doctors that they aren’t taking their medicines. Without a genuine picture of a patient’s medication-taking activity, doctors may unnecessarily escalate that person’s treatment, leading to potential damage to the patient, needless work for the practice and overall increased costs.
Most non-adherence is not accidental but the conscious result of a patient refusing to take medication due to his or her experience, knowledge or beliefs. There are four main reasons for non-adherence.
Patients who pay for their prescriptions face cost barriers – some people can’t afford their medications. These patients may try to make their prescription last longer and save money by taking their medication less often than recommended by their doctor. Other patients may not obtain prescriptions from their doctor at all.
Patients may not comprehend why their medicine is necessary. They may also be confused about side effects or how long it will take before results are seen. This particularly applies in the case of patients suffering chronic illness, since taking many daily medications to minimise the risk of negative events can be confusing. In addition, being unable to see immediate improvement can result in premature discontinuation.
3. Too Many Medications
Too many medications can lead to non-adherence. Many GPs in the face of an ageing population have been increasingly confronted with patient non-adherence among elderly people with chronic diseases who have been prescribed multiple medicines. To encourage adherence and self-management among patients with polypharmacy, GPs work closely with pharmacists’ practices. When properly used, pharmacy fridges can act as part of the prescribers’ arsenal for tackling non-adherence. Pharmacy fridges are available from suppliers such as https://www.fridgefreezerdirect.co.uk/medical-refrigeration/pharmacy-fridges.
An academic study here discusses why non-adherence is a challenge.
4. Lack of Symptoms
Patients who don’t notice any changes or feel any different when they stop or start their medication could see no reason to continue taking it. One study into ethnic minority experiences of mental health found that while patients did not stop taking their medication altogether, they only took their medicine occasionally when they felt they needed it – against their doctors’ advice.