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Br Med J. Oct 27, 1979; 2(6197): 1031–1033.
PMCID: PMC1596809

Improving medication compliance: a randomised clinical trial.


A medical monitor which recorded the date and hour each time a medicine bottle was opened was used to evaluate a programme for improving patients' compliance with their treatment. Eighty-two patients with glaucoma who had been prescribed pilocarpine eye drops three times daily to prevent visual loss were randomised into two groups. Both groups used the medication monitor during two 20-day periods, but before the second period the experimental group were given an education and tailoring programme in an attempt to improve their compliance. Nine patients missed the second treatment period and were excluded from the analysis. The patients in the experimental group showed significantly improved compliance when compared with the control group. The numbers of missed doses were reduced by about half, as was the proportion of time that exceeded the eight-hour dose intervals. Follow-up studies are needed to determine how long the improved compliance persists, but anyone considering setting up an education and tailoring programme should recognise the extent to which therapeutic efforts are wasted because of non-compliance.

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Selected References

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  • Stewart RB, Cluff LE. A review of medication errors and compliance in ambulant patients. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1972 Jul-Aug;13(4):463–468. [PubMed]
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  • Ley P, Jain VK, Skilbeck CE. A method for decreasing patients' medication errors. Psychol Med. 1976 Nov;6(4):599–601. [PubMed]
  • Haynes RB, Sackett DL, Gibson ES, Taylor DW, Hackett BC, Roberts RS, Johnson AL. Improvement of medication compliance in uncontrolled hypertension. Lancet. 1976 Jun 12;1(7972):1265–1268. [PubMed]

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