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Encourage Mom To Take Her Medicine As Prescribed

Armen Hareyan's picture

This Mother's Day, return the care by encouraging her to take her medicine as prescribed, reinforce the importance of diet and exercise, and talk with her doctor about her health.

The failure to take medication as prescribed by a physician is an under- recognized, under-reported public health issue in the United States. A USA Today article in March of this year reported, "Study after study shows that in the USA and other developed countries, only about half of people with chronic health conditions continue to take medication as directed."(1)

Why is this a national health issue and an issue that you should care about? Lack of medication adherence results in substantial worsening of disease, in some cases death, increased health care costs, and hospitalization, as researched and reported by Lars Osterberg, M.D. and Terrence Blaschke, M.D., of Stanford University School of Medicine, in the New England Journal of Medicine in August 2005.(2)

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The problem of lack of medication adherence, as health experts call this issue, affects all people regardless of gender or age or socioeconomic status, according to these authors, who studied the question of why people do not take medicines that will help them achieve good health.(2)

A recent survey by Harris Interactive identified two reasons why patients don't take their medications: a perceived lack of knowledge about prescribed medications and concern about potential adverse reactions. The survey asked 1,726 adults why they failed to take their prescription medicines or failed to get prescriptions filled. Nearly half of adults surveyed who are currently taking prescription medications described themselves as fairly, somewhat, or not at all confident in their knowledge about these medications. More than one-third of the people surveyed had decided not to take a prescription drug because they had a concern about a potential adverse reaction, and more than one-quarter of respondents have decided not even to fill a prescription because they had a concern about a potential adverse reaction.(3)

Another poll conducted in 2005 by Harris Interactive pointed to additional reasons for lack of adherence. When 2,507 adults were asked why they failed to take their prescription medicines, many said it was because they forgot to take them. Some said their symptoms went away. Others said they wanted to save money. Another group said they stopped taking their medicine because they didn't think the drugs were working.(4)

This Mother's Day, talk to your mom about her medicine and encourage her to talk to her physician regularly. Questions patients should consider when talking to their doctors about their medications may include: