International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care

Special Section: The Rational Use of Therapeutic Drugs

Patient Decision Making: The Missing Ingredient in Compliance Research

Jenny L. Donovana1

a1 University of Bristol

Abstract

Medical noncompliance has been identified as a major public health problem that imposes a considerable financial burden upon modern health care systems. There is a large research record focusing on the understanding, measurement, and resolution of noncompliance, but it is consistently found that between one third and one half of patients fail to comply with medical advice and prescriptions. Critically absent from this research record has been the patient's role in medical decision making. For patients, particularly those with chronic illnesses, compliance is not an issue: they make their own reasoned decisions about treatments based on their own beliefs, personal circumstances, and the information available to them. The traditional concept of compliance is thus outmoded in modern health care systems, where chronic illness and questioning patients predominate.