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Improving Adherence Through Counselling

Improving patients’ adherence has been a challenge for healthcare workers. Nonadherence is a complex and tough issue. Consequently, it can cause poor clinical outcomes and contribute to poor quality of life.

As such, interventions must be done to educate as well as to motivate patients.

There are many reasons for non-adherence. Some of them include, patients not believing that the medication is necessary, accidentally take more or less than prescribed and even completely forget to take them altogether.

To improve this, healthcare professionals must utilize communication and behavioral strategies such as counselling.

It should be noted that counselling should be personalized to each patient. This is because each patient has different causes and reasons for non-adherence.

Although counselling can assess a patient’s adherence, there are still a few limitations. A patient may lie about taking his or her medications on time or may even blatantly refuse to cooperate.

As such, instead of using traditional counselling methods, try practising counselling that empathizes with the patient’s intrinsic motivation. The approach to counselling should be easily understood and supportive of the patient’s needs. Listed below are a few pieces of advice towards improving patient’s adherence rates.

1. Avoid using medical jargon

Instead of saying “Take this to treat your hypertension”, try saying “Let’s try this for your high blood pressure.”

2. Avoid judgement-centered question

Instead of asking “You’ve been taking all of your pills in your therapy regimen, right?”, say “How many pills in your therapy regimen would you say you missed this week?”

3. Assist patient in setting medication-taking goals

You can do this by asking “Which strategy seems like something you could try to increase our statin taking?”

4. Be clear about the benefit of the medicine

For example, you can say “If you take your diabetes medicines and control your blood sugar, you may not need to have your eyeglass prescription changed as often.”

To summarize, improving medication adherence improves patient’s confidence to manage their illness.

Indeed, counselling together with other interventions help to improve patients’ medication knowledge and also adherence.

Evidently, asking the right questions can also help make a real difference.

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  1. Costa E, Giardini A, Savin M, et al. Interventional tools to improve medication adherence: review of literature. Patient Prefer Adherence. 2015;9:1303–1314.

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