People have asked me what the difference is between adherence and compliance, so I thought I’d post a short explanation:
These two terms are both used to describe the extent to which patients take medications as prescribed by their health care providers. Not to confuse, but there are even more terms that describe this behavior— ‘concordance’ and ‘persistence’, for example. Of the various terms, ‘adherence’ implies more of a collaborative, active role between patients and their providers, and is the preferred term for many providers.
“You say tomato, I say tomahto”
Does it really matter what we call it? It does to the extent that a universal term helps us identify the important healthcare issue of patients not following prescribed regimens. However, with the estimated total of direct and indirect costs of medication nonadherence totaling $177 billion annually, it’s more important that we focus on improvement here, no matter what name we give it.
For more about improving medication adherence, read an article I wrote in Nursing Made Incredibly Easy!