When we picture someone taking medication frequently, even on a daily basis, we often think of the elderly. We also tend to think of this age group when we think of medication adherence. However, its not just the elderly that have a problem with adherence to medication. Anyone who is taking medication for a chronic condition or illness is reliant of daily medication. This includes people who take Metformin or Amaryl for the treatment of diabetes, those who take Ridaura or Imuran to treat rheumatoid arthritis, or those who take daily Lipitor or Crestor to manage their cholesterol levels. People of any age can take these medications and any of these people can have trouble adhering to their daily regimen of taking the medication. In fact, as many as 50% of people who take medications do not take those medications as prescribed by their doctor.
Medication Adherence Definition
Medication adherence means the extent to which a patient takes his or her medication as prescribed by their doctor or healthcare provider. This includes the patient’s compliance with the dosage, timing, and frequency of taking medication for as long as the prescription needs to be taken.
Factors Contributing to Lack of Medication Adherence
The World Health Organization published a report in 2003 that outlines five different “dimensions” that affect whether or not a person adheres to taking their medication as prescribed. These include:
- Provider/patient/health care system-related
All of these factors overlap with each other and show that lack of medication adherence isn’t solely due to the patients themselves. Some examples of other reasons for non-medication adherence include the fact that people may not be able to afford the medication, they may not have access to good health services or health insurance plans, they may have a condition that affects their ability to take their medication, and they may have a medication regimen that is complex and difficult to follow. In addition, many patients will be dealing with more than one of these dimensions simultaneously.
How to Improve Medication Adherence
There is a great need to help people improve adherence to taking their medication because proper adherence improves the health of the patient and significantly cuts medical costs. Managed Healthcare Executive outlines six guidelines that will help patients better adhere to their medication regimen. These include:
- Educating patients
- Forming a connection between patients and health care providers
- Building motivation and instilling confidence in patients
- Ensuring that taking medication becomes a habit
- Taking the patients’ culture into consideration
- Making sure taking medication is a simple process
If you feel that you are having trouble adhering to your medication regimen, then talk to your doctor. You can work together to find ways for you to improve your level of medication adherence and improve your health and wellbeing.
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