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Tackling nonadherence in psychiatric disorders: current opinion

Authors Farooq S, Naeem F

Received 23 December 2013

Accepted for publication 4 February 2014

Published 12 June 2014 Volume 2014:10 Pages 1069—1077

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S40777

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Saeed Farooq,1,2 Farooq Naeem3

1Staffordshire University, Staffordshire, UK; 2Postgraduate Medical Institute, Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar, Pakistan; 3Department of Psychiatry, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Abstract: Nonadherence to treatment is a major challenge in all fields of medicine, and it has been claimed that increasing the effectiveness of adherence interventions may have far greater impact on the health of the population than any improvement in specific medical treatments. However, despite widespread use of terms such as adherence and compliance, there is little agreement on definitions or measurements. Nonadherence can be intermittent or continuous, voluntary or involuntary, and may be specific to single or multiple interventions, which makes reliable measurement problematic. Both direct and indirect methods of assessment have their limitations. The current literature focuses mainly on psychotic disorders. A large number of trials of various psychological, social, and pharmacologic interventions has been reported. The results are mixed, but interventions specifically designed to improve adherence with a more intensive and focused approach and interventions combining elements from different approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, family-based, and community-based approaches have shown better outcomes. Pharmacologic interventions include careful drug selection, switching when a treatment is not working, dose adjustment, simplifying the treatment regimen, and the use of long-acting injections. The results for the most studied pharmacologic intervention, ie, long-acting injections, are far from clear, and there are discrepancies between randomized controlled trials, nationwide cohort studies, and mirror-image studies. Nonadherence with treatment is often paid far less attention in routine clinical practice and psychiatric training. Strategies to measure and improve adherence in clinical practice are based more on personal experience than on research evidence. This overview focuses on strategies used for improving treatment adherence in psychiatric disorders in the light of current evidence, with emphasis on public health aspects of treatment adherence and the management of nonadherence in routine clinical practice.

Keywords: depression, anxiety, psychosis, compliance, drug treatment, clinical practice


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