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Can we improve adolescent adherence?


Adherence has been defined as the extent to which a person's action and behaviour matches the agreed recommendations from a clinician.1,2 It is a continuous and dynamic process influenced by many factors, including the disease, the treatments, the healthcare team and system, social and economic factors, as well as patient-related factors.1 Non-adherence may adversely affect clinical outcomes and lead to increased healthcare costs.1-3 Reported rates of adherence are around 50% for people with long-term conditions, and may be as low as 30% among adolescents (aged 10–19 years).1,3,4 Around 20% of those aged under 18 years have a chronic illness and treatment often requires long-term cumbersome regimens including multiple daily medicines, making adherence challenging.1,3,5 It is important to distinguish between intentional and non-intentional adherence and to tailor interventions to the individual, using every healthcare contact as an opportunity to discuss adherence.1 Here we consider the challenges faced by healthcare professionals in encouraging adolescents to adhere to treatment regimens (in particular taking medicines) and some strategies that may help.

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