Nursing Notes

May 26, 2011

Fighting America’s ‘Other Drug Problem’: Researchers Find Key to Combating Medication Non-Adherence

Conversation between doctor and patient/consumer.

Image via Wikipedia

As a psychiatric nurse, I am quite familiar with the incidence of non-compliance with prescribed medication.  My patients don’t want to take the medications and don’t believe they need them.  Trying to convince them to follow the medication regime is the hardest part of treatment.

I had not really thought about the incidence of med non-compliance with medical patients, but I guess I should have.  When the body is ill, the mind is not operating at optimal levels due to stress.  I also adhere to the concept that all medical patients have a psychological component that should be treated at the same time.

Here is an article that discusses the ways that nurses can deal with this issue.  I like this article because it shows the nurse as the pivotal point in solving the problem.  Please read this article and while you are there, read some of the other articles on this topic.  This site, Science Daily, is one of my favorite sites online.  I hope you enjoy reading there, too.

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ScienceDaily (Nov. 18, 2010)

Medications do not have a chance to fight health problems if they are taken improperly or not taken at all. Non-adherence to medications costs thousands of lives and billions of dollars each year in the United States alone, according to the New England Healthcare Institute. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have developed an intervention strategy that is three times more effective than previously studied techniques at improving adherence in patients.

Cynthia Russell, associate professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing, found that patients who used a Continuous Self-Improvement strategy drastically improved their medication adherence. The strategy focuses on counseling patients to understand how taking medications can fit into their daily routines. Nurses meet with patients and discuss their daily schedules to identify optimal times to take medications and safe places to store their medications.

“Continuous Self-Improvement is a personalized strategy, and the scheduling is different for every patient,” Russell said. “Finding the right place and time for patients to take medications can be as simple as storing the pill bottles in their cars so their medication will be available for them to take during the morning commute to work.”

In the study, kidney transplant patients were given pill bottles with caps that automatically recorded the date and time whenever they were opened. Each month, a nurse reviewed the results in illustrated reports with the patients and discussed how they could improve their adherence. The researchers found significant improvements among patients’ adherence rates. The results indicate the technique is three times more effective than previously studied techniques.

Russell recommends that patients meet with nurses to implement the strategy a few months after medical procedures, when they have returned to their normal routines. During…[read more]

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