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Behaviour change: could it improve medication adherence?

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Increased lifespans mean more long-term use Increased lifespans mean more long-term use of prescription medicine and more complex regimens

Increases in the number of prescribed medications and regimen complexity are both correlated with lower levels of adherence to medication.1 As such, although a sustained, high level of medication adherence is essential to achieve optimal health outcomes, this can be a struggle for some patients. In the UK alone, the annual cost of non-adherence is thought to be in the region of £500 million, and in the European Union an estimated 200,000 people die every year as a result of not taking their medication as prescribed.2

‘In my experience, many patients report that forgetting to take their medications is their largest barrier,’ says Dr Leah Zullig, Associate Professor in Population Health Sciences at Duke University, North Carolina. ‘However, we find that the issues are much more complex. Many patients are taking multiple medications with different dosing schedules. They may not have social support at home to help them organise their daily medications and get timely refills. There’s usually not one single issue.’

Indeed, over 100 factors have been found to influence medication adherence, including:

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