In my opinion: Doctors talk about patient noncompliance

In your opinion, what are the most common reasons when patients do not adhere to their medication schedule or treatment plan?

Non-adherence to medical advice is a major obstacle to the delivery of effective healthcare. The data seems to suggest that at least 50 percent of patients with chronic diseases failed to follow medical advice and treatment plans. Noncompliance has been associated with treatment failure and all of its associated consequences . . .

It is often not possible in a physician’s office, with the limited time available, to explain to a patient the benefits of complying with treatment plans and regimens. The greatest predictor of the health of society is the educational level of that society.

They may not fully understand how take their medications correctly. It is not uncommon for me to see individuals that are functionally illiterate and are unable to read the medication directions on the bottle.

There is also a growing attitude among many individuals in society that are distrustful of the medical and healthcare establishment.


Dr. Sergio Seoane

Family Practitioner, Lakeland

Polk County Medical Association Member


Fear of side effects— which is a valid fear. We try to address that when I give them the medicine. Sometimes it takes two or three visits. Sometimes they don’t hear everything. Sometimes patient handouts will help when they hear it from the doctor as well.

We have to explain all those bad things that can happen with the drugs— that the good things in their particular case outweigh the bad, therefore we are going to give you the medication. When they go home and start thinking about it . . . they stop using it.


Dr. David Green

Family Practitioner, Winter Haven

Pollk County Medical Association Member


Commitment, discipline, and understanding.  Patients need to make their health a priority by fully committing to a plan, and then sticking to it!  Some have difficulty adhering to a regimented schedule and forget to take their medications.  But, it truly can mean the difference between life and death. Years ago, the cost of medications was a frequent reason for lack of adherence to treatment plans, but I’m finding that to be less of an obstacle due to the increasing number of medications now available in generic form. Also, I think communication is vital so patients understand the reasoning behind their treatment plan, and the repercussions associated with not following it. Staying healthy is a demanding process that can require significant lifestyle changes, such as more exercise, a better diet, proper medications, and additional trips to the doctor. While these modifications are challenging, I’ve found commitment, discipline, and understanding are the keys to my patients’ success.  


Dr. Jorge L. Gonzalez

Cardiologist and Medical Director, Watson Clinic

Polk County Medical Association Member






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