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Overview of Partial Compliance

Stephen R. Marder, MD

Published: November 1, 2003

Article Abstract

A substantial proportion of patients with psychiatric and nonpsychiatric chronic illnesses fail totake their medications as prescribed. A number of studies suggest that 50% or more of individualswith schizophrenia are noncompliant with medications at some time during their illness. In mostcases, patients are partially compliant, taking only a portion of their prescribed medications. Noncomplianceis probably the most important element contributing to relapse in schizophrenia. Factors contributingto the rate of noncompliance include medication side effects, the severity of psychotic symptoms,impaired cognition, and an inadequate understanding of the role of medication for preventingrelapse. In addition, both patients and clinicians overestimate patients’ compliance. Strategies formanaging partial compliance include the treatment of medication side effects, the education of patientsabout their illness, and the use of long-acting antipsychotic formulations.

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