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Helping patients to make the best use of medicines


It is important to take medicines in the right dose, at the right times, by the right route and in the right way (e.g. with food), and doctors and pharmacists should be able to give the clear advice which patients need. It is the quality of the relationship between the patient and the doctor and pharmacist, including mutual respect and understanding, that will help the patient to follow the recommendations. The term ‘compliance’ is used to describe how well the patient does this, but it is an authoritarian word which denies the patient’s autonomy. Treatment is an activity shared by doctor and patient in which both parties should ‘comply’ with the needs of the other. In this article we therefore use ‘compliance’ only as a technical term.

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