Adherence describes the degree of a patient’s participation and engagement in maintaining a treatment regimen that he/she believes will be beneficial. Even though the term adherence is sometimes used interchangeably with“compliance”, compliance is a passive behavior in which a patient is following the doctor’s instructions and taking the prescribed medications. Adherence is a more proactive behaviour that also includes seeking medical attention, obtaining immunizations, filling prescriptions, and applying behavioural changes that address self-management of disease such as cessation of unhealthy diet, smoking, or increasing physical activity.
Assessment of adherence provides useful information for clinicians that treatment outcome monitoring can’t solely provide. However, there is no “gold standard” for adherence measurement. Therefore, employing a multi-method approach that combines feasible patient self-reporting and reasonable treatment outcomes supported by effective patient–provider communication is often used to identify and overcome problems with treatment adherence.
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