Patient adherence to medication

Prescription of medication is a key part of healthcare today, and because of medical advances and increased longevity, more patients are prescribed multiple medications. Patient adherence is critical to medicine-taking, but the process of taking medicine has been studied much less than the medications.1

According to the WHO (2003) report on medication adherence, the definition of adherence to long-term therapy has been stated as “the extent to which a person’s behaviour – taking medication, following a diet, and/or executing lifestyle changes, corresponds with agreed recommendations from a health care provider.”2

Poor medication adherence is a growing public health concern3, and it is a significant problem worldwide.2

About 50% of patients in developed countries adhere to long-term therapy for chronic illnesses, and an estimated one-third to one-half of all medications for long-term conditions are not taken as recommended.1

For example, in studies referenced by the WHO report mentioned above, in the United States, just over half of hypertension patients are compliant. In Australia, only 43% of patients treated for asthma adhere to their prescribed medication regimen, and just 28% use prescribed medication to prevent symptoms. Developing countries have still lower rates.2

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