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Fam Pract. 2004 Feb;21(1):46-50.

What happened to the prescriptions? A single, short, standardized telephone call may increase compliance.

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  • 1Department of Primary Health Care, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden.



Patients' compliance with prescribed prescriptions and doctors' advice is a prerequisite for successful treatment. Compliance is estimated to be <or=50% in the treatment of hypertension. Thus, it is important to find simple methods to increase compliance.


Our aim was to estimate the extent to which patients visit the pharmacy and redeem prescribed items after seeing a GP, and to assess if a phone call 1 week later improves compliance.


A total of 399 patients attending a primary health care centre receiving prescriptions were randomized to active intervention receiving a short standardized follow-up telephone call or to standard intervention receiving no telephone call. The doctors' prescriptions were later compared with the dispensed drugs at the pharmacies.


A majority of the patients (90%) redeemed prescriptions. Women redeemed prescriptions to a greater extent than men, both in the control group (P = 0.023) and in the intervention group (P = 0.0003). A telephone call 1 week later increased the proportion of patients that redeemed their prescriptions (P = 0.023). Further analysis showed that only women were affected by the telephone call. Twenty percent of the prescriptions were drugs for cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). The proportion of dispensed drugs for CVD was only 66%, compared with 88% for all other drugs (P = 0.001).


A single, short, standardized telephone call increases women's compliance. Women also redeem prescriptions more often than men irrespective of a telephone call. The compliance and treatment of CVD are not acceptable, and seem to be lower for men than women.

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