The assessment of patient compliance is very difficult. Many patients may not want to disappoint their physician and will not be completely accurate about their degree of compliance. Other patients are not able to accurately evaluate or do not know their degree of compliance. In one study, 10% of patients reported that they were 100% compliant with their medication use. Using pill count methods, however, the use of the prescribed medications ranged from 2% to 130% of the prescribed pills.
Several methods may help to improve patient understanding, memory, and ultimately compliance to medication or recommended diagnostic studies or treatment. One important strategy is to attempt to improve the likelihood of compliance at the very beginning. An explanation of the goals and rationale for therapy using language that the patient can understand also helps to set the stage. Educate the patient on the perceived benefits of diagnostic studies or therapy at the onset, especially if the patient is asymptomatic. Collaborating with the patient may improve adherence to the treatment plan, including frequency and duration of medication intake. Address potential financial limitations or other barriers to lifestyle modifications that may be required. In particular, addressing any misinformation regarding a medical condition or possible side effects at the onset of any treatment recommendations may help to improve compliance. Finally, explain the potential consequences of not following specific medical recommendations.
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