Intended for healthcare professionals


Improving adherence to prescribed drugs

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 20 August 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3282
  1. Abilio C de Almeida Neto, associate professor,
  2. Parisa Aslani, senior lecturer,
  3. Timothy F Chen, senior lecturer
  1. 1Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
  1. abilio{at}

    Techniques used to change behaviour should be considered

    Non-adherence to prescribed medicines can cause treatment failure, mortality, and increase healthcare costs.1 2 Methods of improving adherence are only marginally effective,3 so several challenges remain.

    Recently the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published a clinical guideline for involving patients in decisions about prescribed drugs and increasing adherence.4 The guideline recommends that prescribers accept the patient’s right to decide not to take a drug, even when they do not agree with the decision, “as long as the patient has capacity to make an informed decision and has been provided with the information needed to make such decision.” However, it fails to provide guidance for dealing with circumstances in which refusal to accept medication places the patient at …

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