The Importance of Adherence to Therapy

To all of us, at least once in our lives, it will happen that we forget to follow the Doctor’s prescribed course of treatment – perhaps, for example, to cure that annoying sore throat. The schedule has been set in agreement with the Doctor, and we’ve even set the reminder alarm on our cell phone – theoretically a sure-fire way to get it right. And yet, there’s no help for it: we simply and completely forget – with the resulting delay in the healing process. This, when it happens, is called in medical terminology non-adherence to therapy.

Nothing serious, perhaps just kicking oneself – if it’s only about curing a minor case of flu. It’s quite another matter, however, when it’s non-adherence concerning some chronic pathology. Because pathology and Patient are two sides of the same coin, the coin of healing, and in that case, adherence is essential. “Adherence to therapy” is defined as the Patient completing at least 80% of the presiding physician’s course of treatment. Adherence to less than 20%, instead, is called resistance to cure.

Observance of and adherence to medical advice and prescriptions are essential parts of any cure, which, if not effectuated with punctuality and precision, can irreparably harm treatment efficacy. If a disease is chronic, Patients must receive special attention, starting from the Doctor. To complete therapy successfully, time to listen to the Patient must be allotted. To manage and overcome a long-term illness, it is essential to offer personalised therapy, taking into account the Patient’s wishes and psychological limits. One of the basic problems encountered in offering medical treatment, in fact, is the difficulty Patients experience – and sometimes caregivers, too – in passively following the Doctor’s directions and prescriptions. The Patient might not even acknowledge the disease – due to lack of comprehension of the required therapy, to lack of trust in the Doctor, or even to some belief that the illness is fated or unjust.

The conditions necessary for Patients to succeed with any therapy are various. First of all, they must be informed in great detail about the pathology and the corresponding cure that must be undergone, and for how long. They must be able to retain with full awareness such information and so decide to “transform” their condition, i.e., to heal it. In other words, they must come to the point of accepting the fact of having a chronic pathology and of feeling within themselves the determination to cure it.

The path is usually very long. Patients find they have to handle too much information, some of it quite complex and remote from their sphere of competence. This lack of preparedness leads, in most cases, to non-adherence to therapy – a distraction that becomes the cause not only of societal expense, but above all of stress for the Patient as the healing period stretches out even longer.

Beyond the adherence to therapy, for people living with a particular state of diminished health, it becomes important to know they’re not alone, and to be able to count on the constant support and assistance of a counsellor and of health practitioners who guide them towards full health, following what has been dubbed the Patient Support Programme.

© Domedica s.r.l.

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