Patient Adherence and Retention Programs – Overview and factors affecting adherence

November 13, 2009


Olivier LAURENT - CEO Coligane group


Several factors decide the success of the treatment for any disorder. One of the major factors is the patient compliance and adherence to treatment. While the healthcare providers can ensure adherence to treatment when the patient is admitted to a hospital, they cannot control the behavior of the patient at home. A patient needs to be committed enough to follow the instructions about medications to be consumed and other related factors advised to ensure faster healing. Studies have reported that every year about 125,000 individuals with heart disorders die due to non-adherence to treatment. Another study reports that about 29% of the European patients do not consume the medications or follow the treatment instructions prescribed to them.1, 2 The popularity of Health 2.0 applications has been noted to gradually improve the adherence to treatments and retain patients in different treatment programs.

Factors affecting adherence

It has been reported that only 50% of the patients who leave a physician’s office with a prescription take the advised medication. There are several factors that are associated with non-adherence to treatment. In more than 70% of the cases, the non-adherence is intentional. This is commonly due to the belief that the medication would not relieve the condition. Patients suffering from long term disorders are the ones who commonly fail to take medicines on a regular basis. Other factors reported include: lack of motivation, fear of side effects, denial that the disorder can cause serious effects, forgetfulness, financial restrictions, not understanding the instructions, and reduction in symptoms.1

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  1. Merck Manual. Adherence to a Drug Regimen. [updated: Nov 2005; accessed: Nov 2009]. Available at:
  2. Hawthorne AB, Rubin G, Ghosh S. Review Article: Medication Non-Adherence in Ulcerative Colitis — Strategies to Improve Adherence With Mesalazine and Other Maintenance Therapies . Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 2008;27(12):1157-1166.

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