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Chronic Conditions and Behavioural Change Approaches to Medication Adherence: Rethinking Clinical Guidance and Recommendations

Authors Read S, Morgan J, Gillespie D, Nollett C, Weiss M, Allen D, Anderson P, Waterman H

Received 25 November 2019

Accepted for publication 4 February 2020

Published 12 March 2020 Volume 2020:14 Pages 581—586


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen

Simon Read,1 James Morgan,2 David Gillespie,3 Claire Nollett,3 Marjorie Weiss,4 Davina Allen,1 Pippa Anderson,5 Heather Waterman1

1School of Healthcare Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, UK; 2Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, Cardiff, Wales, UK; 3Centre for Trials Research, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, UK; 4School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, UK; 5Swansea Centre for Health Economics, Swansea University, Swansea, Wales, UK

Correspondence: Simon Read
Cardiff University, Room 12.14, Eastgate House, 35-43 Newport Road, Cardiff CF24 0AB, Wales, UK
Tel +44 2920 688930

Abstract: Patient adherence to medication is an ongoing concern for clinicians, obfuscating treatment efficacy and resulting in wastage of medicine, reduced clinical benefit, and increased mortality. Despite this, procedural guidance on how clinicians should best engage patients regarding their medicine-taking is limited in the United Kingdom. Adherence for chronic conditions is notably complex, requiring clear education, communication, and behavioural shifts to initiate and sustain daily regimens successfully. This article explores current clinician guidance on assuring patient adherence to medication within the National Health Service, comparing it to that provided for healthcare workers in the field of behavioural change. Outlining the inertia of the former and the progress of the latter, we consider what steps should be taken to address this deficit, including greater focus on patient concerns, as well as knowledge translation for healthcare professionals in future adherence research. Current United Kingdom clinical guidance for assuring patient adherence is largely outdated based on inconclusive evidence for best practice. However, efforts to encourage behavioural change in the public health setting demonstrate evidence-based success. Integrating knowledge generated around adherence behaviour and the practical application of adherence and behavioural change research, as well as funding for longer-term studies with a focus on clinical outcomes, may help to solidify the NICE guidance on adherence and further progress the field. This would require close involvement from patient groups and networks informing ethical aspects of study design and clinical implementation.

Keywords: adherence, chronic conditions, behavioural change, clinical guidance, knowledge translation

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