The WHO defines adherence as,
“The extent to which a person’s behavior – taking medication, following a diet and/or executing lifestyle changes corresponds with agreed recommendations from a health care provider.”
You may have heard the term as “medical adherence” or “treatment adhrence”. Medication adherence simply means following your prescription and the instructions given. Adhering to medication is taking the medication as directed by a Doctor or health care professional – whether taken in pill form, inhaled, injected, as a syrup or as an application on the body like acream, gel, or ointment. Not taking medication as prescribed is called non-adherence. Many people never buy the medicines as per their doctor’s prescriptions, or they may not pick up their filled prescriptions from the pharmacy. Other people bring their medication home, but don’t follow their doctor’s instructions – they skip doses or stop taking the medicine.
Specifically, non-adherence includes:
- Not buying the medicines as per doctor’s instructions, or filling a new prescription or refilling an existing prescription when you are supposed to;
- Stop taking a medicine before the instructions say you should;
- Taking more or less of the prescribed medicine; and
- Taking the medicine at the wrong time.