Strategies to improve compliance with therapy

  • John A. Sbarbaro
    Requests for reprints should be addressed to Dr. John A. Sbarbaro, Denver Department of Health and Hospitals, 605 Bannock Street, Denver, Colorado 80204.
    Department of Medicine and Preventive Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, and the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, City and County of Denver, Denver, Colorado, USA
    Search for articles by this author
      This paper is only available as a PDF. To read, Please Download here.


      The failure of patients to comply with their therapeutic regimen has an extensive impact on the costs and strategies of medical care. Compliance with long-term regimens can be improved by linking the timing of the medication to existing daily habits, reducing the number of times that a medication is to be taken each day, and identifying the side effects that a patient attributes to the treatment. In addition, providing written instructions, shortening the duration of therapy, and periodically evaluating compliance by determining drug serum levels can reduce non-compliant behavior. The establishment of a strong patient/physician relationship is central to long-term therapeutic success.
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to The American Journal of Medicine
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Davis MS
        Predicting non-compliant behavior.
        J Health Soc Behav. 1967; 8: 265-271
        • Mohler DN
        • Wallin DG
        • Dreyfus EG
        Studies in the home treatment of streptococcal disease. I. Failure of patients to take penicillin by mouth as described.
        N Engl J Med. 1955; 252: 1116-1118
        • Ayd Jr, FJ
        Single daily dose of antidepressants (editorial).
        JAMA. 1974; 230: 263-264
        • Porter AM
        Drug defaulting in a general practice.
        Br Med J. 1969; 1: 218-222
        • Gatley MS
        To be taken as directed.
        J R Coll Gen Pract. 1969; 16: 39-44
        • Brand F
        • Smith R
        • Brand P
        Effect of economic barriers to medical care on patient's noncompliance.
        Pub Health Rep. 1977; 92: 72-78
        • Latiolais CJ
        • Berry CC
        Misuse of prescription indications by outpatients.
        Drug Intell Clin Pharm. 1969; 3: 270-277
        • Weintraub M
        • Au WY
        • Lasagna L
        Compliance as a determinant of serum digoxin concentration.
        JAMA. 1973; 224: 481-485
        • Caldwell JR
        • Cobb S
        • Dowling MD
        • Dejongh J
        The dropout problem in antihypertensive therapy.
        J Chronic Dis. 1970; 22: 579-592
        • Ley P
        • Bradshaw PW
        • Eaves D
        • Walker CM
        A method for increasing patients' recall of information presented by doctors.
        Psychol Med. 1973; 3: 217-220
        • Ley P
        Communication in the clinical setting.
        Br J Orthod. 1974; 1: 173-177
        • Colcher IS
        • Bass JW
        Penicillin treatment of streptococcal pharyngitis.
        JAMA. 1972; 222: 657-659
        • Sharpe TR
        • Mikeal RL
        Patient compliance with antibiotic regimens.
        Am J Hosp Pharm. 1974; 31: 479-484
        • Eney RD
        • Goldstein E
        Compliance of chronic asthmatics with oral administration of theophylline as measured by serum and salivary levels.
        Pediatrics. 1976; 57: 513-517
        • Reibel EM
        Study to determine the feasibility of self medication program for patients at a rehabilitation center.
        Nurs Res. 1969; 18: 65
        • Arnold RG
        • Adebonojo FO
        • Callas ER
        Patient and prescriptions: comprehension and compliance with medical instructions in a suburban pediatric practice.
        Clin Ped. 1970; 9: 648
        • Sbarbaro JA
        Compliance: Inducements and enforcements.
        Chest. 1979; 76: 750-756