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How to get the most from your medication - 1st of 3 parts

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

How to maximise the benefits of your medicines – Medication Adherence

(Part 1)

“Drugs don't work in patients who don't take them” C. Everett Koop, M.D.

If you do not take your medication, it is not going to work – it is that simple! The reasons behind people failing to take their medication are complex, and can sometimes go beyond a lack of information, forgetfulness, or even access to medication itself. “Non-adherence” simply means not taking your medicines as your doctor intended you to take them.

Non-adherence categorized as two types: intentional and unintentional.

Unintentional non-adherence relates to barriers beyond a person’s control which prevent them from following a prescribed treatment. These include obstacles such as financial barriers, lack of information or understanding about their condition or prescribed treatment, forgetfulness, and ability.

Intentionally not taking your medicines

Intentional non-adherence relates to the persons beliefs, perceptions, and motivations, where a person is reluctant to adhere due to attitudes, concerns, opinions, or fears.

One useful way to establish what might be driving non-adherence is known as the ‘Perceptions and Practicalities approach’. Perceptions refers to how people’s beliefs about medicines might explain their medication taking behaviour. For example, patients may have concerns about potential harmful side-effects or believe that prolonged use of medicines might be toxic. Some patients may not see medicines as being necessary. This is particularly the case in conditions that have no obvious symptoms such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. The medications used to treat these conditions are also typically experienced as neutral which might initially seem positive. However, when patients feel no different whether they take or fail to take their medications this can pose a problem for long-term adherence.

Un-Intentionally not taking your medicines

Practicalities refer to all those factors that are not about the patients’ motivation to take their medication. This can include memory problems, costs, access to medications and lack of skill in taking medication appropriately. 

To be continued. Next week

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