Studies show that half of patients don’t take the medication their physicians prescribe for them. This nonadherence cuts across all levels of society, types of medicines, and types of medical problems.
Physicians and other clinical staff can ask patients directly about their medication adherence, but many will not tell the truth because they don’t care if they get better, they feel fine, or they don’t want their care team to be disappointed in them. Asking the following set of questions may give you a more accurate view of your patients’ medication adherence as well as help you identify and possibly eliminate barriers:
1. Do you have all of the medications you were prescribed? (Probe for barriers such as cost or confusion.)
2. Do you understand why you are taking them?
3. Do you ever forget to take your medications? (Discuss phone alarms, putting pills by the coffeemaker, etc.)
4. Do any of your medications make you sick?
5. If you feel worse, do you stop taking them?
6. If you feel better, do you stop taking them?
7. If you have asthma, do you have a spacer? Do you carry a rescue inhaler (at work, in the car, at school, etc.)?
Record patients’ answers to these questions in their record so you can track adherence over time and make changes.
Read the full FPM article: “Practical Ways to Improve Medication Adherence.”
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