Most of us obtain our information by the usual means: family, friends, work associates, and the media - radio, television, the Internet and associated devices.
This morning I received an update from a medical source which discussed an important and often unrealized situation, patient medication adherence (obtaining our prescribed medication -and compliance (using them properly and consistently).
The site stated: "Study data on 10,000 patients in a primary care network showed that 31 percent of initial drug prescriptions were not filled within nine months according to Canadian study [as] reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine. These researchers suggested that enhanced follow up, a part of the patient-centered medial home, is one way to improve prescription adherence." Another review concerning this subject on a related website described the challenge appropriately as "Why we don't take our meds?" from a personal experience.
It is generally described in the medical literature that 1/3 of all prescribed medications are never obtained. The prominent causes are felt to be a suboptimal physician-patient relationship, the cost of medications, the complexity of medical care and the lack of "health literacy," the fear of medical side effects, patient denial and his/her need for control of the illness. In addition, many illnesses can be self-limited. I was surprised to learn that even in patients with chronic and often serious illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure, proper patient compliance was only 50 percent! Similar rates of compliance were seen in British studies of General Practice published in the 1990s.
This problem is important and serious both for the nation in general and the individual patient specifically. Patient non-compliance costs the U.S. about $200 billion each year, a substantial portion of the entire health care budget. Due to lack of compliance, many patients suffer significant discomfort, suboptimal health and often premature death.
A short and valuable discussion of this topic of physician and patient concern can be found on the Internet by searching for "Patient Adherence and Compliance" and the entry by the National Stroke Association. A personal patient commentary about this subject was the basis for the title of today's discussion: "Why Can't We Take Our Meds?" by George Hoffman, which can also be found on the Internet.