Medication Adherence and Interprofessional Collaboration

Medication Adherence and Interprofessional Collaboration

Lack of adherence to medication is a serious issue in healthcare. A number of reasons are given for this, with key contributory factors relating to patients, healthcare systems, and physicians. For example, individuals may fail to adhere to drug prescriptions because of lack of understanding about the usefulness of the medications, or what may simply be referred to as lack of health literacy. According to Preston, O’Neal and Talaga (2010), many patients do not comply with medication prescriptions as they do not understand why they are taking the drugs. On the same note, not all patients are aware of side effects and, more importantly, how these can be managed when they occur.  There is also the aspect of cost; it goes without saying that some medications can be costly. Unless individuals are financially capable of purchasing the full dosage required, they may either reduce the dosage that has been prescribed or abandon the drugs altogether.

Having identified lack of health literacy as a key contributing factor, social workers have a very big role to play in promoting medication adherence. For example, social workers should help in educating individuals together with their families about the importance of adhering to medication prescriptions (Preston et al., 2010). Additionally, social workers should take center-stage in developing guidelines for patients who have a problem adhering to prescriptions (Townsend, 2009). Specific guidelines and strategies that may be used by social workers to promote adherence include consistently following-up on patients, and working with physicians to ensure that all prescriptions are well-explained in terms of benefits and adverse outcomes of non-adherence. When dealing with patents who refuse to adhere to psychotropic medications, the social worker may provide counseling to the patient while also advising the physician on whether or not the patient’s self-determination rights should be upheld (Ruffalo, 2016).


Preston, J. D., O’Neal, J. H., & Talaga, M. C. (2010). Handbook of clinical psychopharmacology for therapists. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.

Ruffalo, M. L. (2016). The Social Worker, Psychotropic Medication, and Right to Refuse. Social Work, 61(3), 271-272.

Townsend, L. (2009). How effective are interventions to enhance adherence to psychiatric medications? Practice implications for social workers working with adults diagnosed with severe mental illness. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 19(5), 512-530.

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