Only Half of Patients Take Their Meds Properly
A new Cochrane systematic review of 182 studies shows that only about half of patients on chronic medications take them as prescribed.
Pharmacological treatments are a mainstay of modern medicine, and our knowledge of biochemistry and physiology has resulted in effective medications for many indications. But medications are only useful when they are taken properly.
Many patients will stop their medications, will frequently forget to take them, or will simply take them incorrectly (for example, taking them only as needed rather than on a regular schedule, or vice versa).
This is true even for serious medical conditions, such as HIV infection and seizures. Lack of compliance can lead to serious complications and is a significant health burden.
The review, unfortunately, also found that there is a paucity of evidence supporting specific strategies to fix the problem. Very few of the studies, only 17, we considered of high enough quality to even consider their results, and these were highly variable.
Common strategies include having a spouse or other family member help a patient take their medications properly, or patient education regarding the proper use of their medications.
Further research of higher quality is required to identify strategies to address this common health problem.