Psychological medicine

Working with the noncompliant patient

Darryl Wade, Peter Burnett



There are many reasons why a patient may not comply with a medication or treatment. Usually these can be managed by thorough assessment of the situation and the patient’s concerns, discussion of the issues and careful negotiation with the patient.

Article Extract

  • Noncompliance with medical advice or treatment is common, with at least half of all patients being noncompliant at some stage of treatment.
  • Compliance tends to be lower in conditions that require longer-term prophylactic treatment and where the consequences of treatment discontinuation are delayed.
  • Medication noncompliance is an important factor in treatment outcomes for many medical conditions, and the increased morbidity and mortality rates are a significant public health problem in terms of human and economic costs.
  • The rate of noncompliance with treatment for psychiatric disorders is probably no worse than in treatment for physical disorders.