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Medication Non-Adherence and Chronic Conditions
- Not filling the prescription
- Not getting refills
- Taking a different dose than prescribed
- Not taking the medication as often as you should
What Are the Consequences?
What Are the Reasons for Non-Adherence? What Can You Do?
I do not understand how to take the medication.
- The dose—How much medication do you need to take at one time?
- The daily schedule—How many times during the day do you need to take the medication?
- The duration—How long do you need to continue taking it?
- Steps to take if you miss a dose—Do you need to take the medication as soon as possible or should you wait until the next day?
- Special instructions—For example, should you take the medication with food?
I am afraid of the side effects.
The medication is too expensive.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you can use a less expensive generic drug. Many states require pharmacists to dispense generic drugs unless otherwise specified.
- If you have prescription drug coverage, contact your insurance company to find out which drugs are covered under your plan.
- Learn about patient assistance programs. If you are eligible, you may be able to get your medication at a lower cost. You can find more information online or through your pharmacist.
I feel fine. Why do I need to keep taking the medication?
It is hard to remember to take my medication!
- If you own a smartphone, there are several apps to choose from. Some will even remind you when it is time to refill your prescription. While you're virtual shopping in your app store, look to see if your drug store or pharmacy has an app.
- Other technologies include talking alarm clocks, watches, and timers that have a section to hold pills.
- If you take a lot of medications, and prefer to use paper and a pen, create a chart. List the names of the medications, the dosages, and the time of day when you need to take them.
- Have a set routine, like taking your medication when you make coffee in the morning.
- Use a pill organizer. This is a plastic container that has a section for each day of the week.
- Let your family members or friends know when you have to take a pill so they can remind you in case you forget.
- Check with your pharmacy to see if they will automatically refill your prescription, then contact you by phone or text message when it is ready for pick up. This is also a great time saver and eliminates waiting at the pharmacy for a refill.
- If you have to take a lot of medications each day, talk to your doctor. New treatment regimens become available all the time. Maybe a pill you have been taking three times a day can now be taken once a day or some of your medicines now come in a combination pill.
Educate Before You Medicate http://www.talkaboutrx.org
Take Control of Your Health http://www.tcyh.org
Canadian Pharmacists Association http://www.pharmacists.ca
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Bosworth H. Medication adherence: making the case for increased awareness. Script Your Future website. Available at: http://scriptyourfuture.org/wp-content/themes/cons/m/Script%5FYour%5FFuture%5FBriefing%5FPaper.pdf. Accessed October 18, 2013.
Chronic diseases. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/AAG/chronic.htm. Updated December 17, 2009. Accessed October 18, 2013.
Gray R, White J, Schulz M, Abderhalden C. Enhancing medication adherence in people with schizophrenia: an international programme of research. Int J Ment Health Nurs. 2010;19(1):36-44.
National Council on Patient Information and Education. Enhancing prescription medicine adherence: a national action plan. Educate Before You Medicate website. Available at: http://www.talkaboutrx.org/documents/enhancing%5Fprescription%5Fmedicine%5Fadherence.pdf. Published August 2007. Accessed October 18, 2013.
Osterber L, Blaschke T. Adherence to medication. N Engl J Med. 2005;353(5):487-497.
Take control of your medicines. Take Control of Your Health website. Available at: http://www.tcyh.org/medications/medications.shtml. Accessed October 18, 2013.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 10/2013
- Update Date: 10/18/2013