Medication Adherence

It's important to take your chronic medication, as prescribed.


"Drugs don’t work in patients who don’t take them.” – C. Everett Koop


Living with chronic disease has its challenges. Chronic conditions are those which persist for a long time and require long-term treatment. You may battle with understanding exactly what your diagnosis means and how it could impact your day-to-day life. You may even experience uncertainty around how to explain your condition to family or friends. One obstacle that you are likely to encounter is sticking to your treatment plan as prescribed by your doctor.

There are many reasons why people might deviate from their treatment plan (also termed “non-adherence”) including forgetfulness, affordability, medication side effects and even difficulty accepting their diagnosis. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), adherence to chronic therapy averages 50% globally (1) meaning that this is a significant problem.

The consequences of poor adherence can be costly – in terms of health-related issues and the impact on your wallet. People living with chronic disease are more likely to experience disease progression and serious complications if they are poorly adherent to their medication. This may require expensive interventions and hospital admissions, as well as the anxiety of having to deal with deteriorating health. There is strong evidence showing the link between improved adherence and decreased health risks (2,3,4,5,6).

Make it a priority to take your medication as prescribed and ask your pharmacist if you are not sure how to use it correctly. Following your treatment plan, including medication and lifestyle modification where appropriate, is essential for better health.


Want to learn more about specific chronic diseases?

Click on the links below.



Written by Dr Jessica Hamuy Blanco | Health Window



  1. World Health Organization (WHO) Adherence to Long Term Therapies. Evidence to Action. Available on [accessed 1 March 2021].

  2. Du L, Cheng Z, Zhang Y, Li Y, Mei D. The impact of medication adherence on clinical outcomes of coronary artery disease: A meta-analysis. Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2017 Jun;24(9):962-970. doi: 10.1177/2047487317695628. 

  3. Kim YY, Lee JS, Kang HJ, Park SM. Effect of medication adherence on long-term all-cause-mortality and hospitalization for cardiovascular disease in 65,067 newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes patients. Sci Rep. 2018 Aug 15;8(1):12190. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-30740-y.

  4. Kim S, Shin DW, Yun JM, Hwang Y, Park SK, Ko YJ, Cho B. Medication Adherence and the Risk of Cardiovascular Mortality and Hospitalization Among Patients With Newly Prescribed Antihypertensive Medications. Hypertension. 2016 Mar;67(3):506-12. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.115.06731.

  5. Ruppar TM, Cooper PS, Mehr DR, Delgado JM, Dunbar-Jacob JM. Medication Adherence Interventions Improve Heart Failure Mortality and Readmission Rates: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Controlled Trials. J Am Heart Assoc. 2016 Jun 17;5(6):e002606. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.115.002606.

  6. Yu SF, Cheng JS, Chen YC, Chen JF, Hsu CY, Lai HM, Ko CH, Chiu WC, Su YJ, Cheng TT. Adherence to anti-osteoporosis medication associated with lower mortality following hip fracture in older adults: a nationwide propensity score-matched cohort study. BMC Geriatr. 2019 Oct 28;19(1):290. doi: 10.1186/s12877-019-1278-9. 

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