A Lack of Motivation: A Top Barrier to Medication Adherence

This is the fourth installment of our “Top Six Barriers to Medication Adherence” blog series. Read our introductory blog post, the article on cost and financial concerns and the post on side effects.

Getting patients to take medications appropriately can be a complex, multifactorial process and lack of motivation on the part of the patient can derail even the most thought-out adherence program. In a poll Health Dialog conducted on Twitter, we found that an overwhelming 63% of respondents expressed that taking medications on a daily basis was an inconvenience.*

To overcome gaps in motivation, medication adherence programs must focus on changing long-term patient behaviors. Recent research looked at motivational interviewing as a method for achieving behavioral change. Motivational interviewing is a counseling technique originally developed to help treat addiction. It was designed to help patients identify and overcome the specific reasons why they may be reluctant (or unmotivated) to change their behavior. The research analyzed 72 randomized controlled trials that utilized motivational interviewing. It showed significant benefit from this technique in achieving cholesterol and blood pressure medication adherence, with psychologists and physicians able to achieve a positive effect in 80% of the analyzed trials.[1]

Overcoming a Lack of Motivation

When dealing with motivational gaps, it is critical to identify each person’s “readiness” level to make positive changes, as well as the personal motivations, values and preferences driving individual behaviors. Health Dialog has spent over 20 years testing and perfecting a coaching behavior change framework that helps identify motivational gaps that lead to medication nonadherence. Our Ready? Set. Go!® framework emphasizes:

  • Ready? Assessing a person’s readiness to change
  • Set. Guiding an individual to develop achievable health and wellness goals
  • Go! Helping the individual to reach these goals and maintain improved behaviors over time

As part of this framework, our Care Navigators ask probing questions, such as:

  • When you think about the future and your health, what comes to mind in terms of taking your medications?
  • What do you think would have to happen for you to take this medication as prescribed?

This approach allows for a trusted and dynamic partnership in which Care Navigators help patients set realistic short- and long-term goals tailored to their personal healthcare journeys. With this framework, motivational issues can be overcome, increasing medication adherence, which in turn improves the individual’s health and can reduce costs from potential complications that can occur when prescribed medications aren’t taken properly.

In the next installment in our blog series “Top Six Barriers to Medication Adherence,” we will discuss issues with healthcare providers and how to cope with them.

*Twitter poll completed November 28, 2018, with 2,722 responses

[1] Brown, M.T., Bussell, J.K. (2011). Medication Adherence: WHO Cares? Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Topics: Trends & Insights, Medication Adherence

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