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Cult Med Psychiatry. 1989 Sep;13(3):315-34.

Compliance and the patient's perspective: controlling symptoms in everyday life.

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Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass 02138.


Non-compliance with medical advice is poorly understood. Most of the existing literature considers the problem only from the doctor's point of view. We undertook a diachronic, qualitative study of the illness experiences of 19 women to try to understand non-compliance from the patient's perspective. Three-fourths of our study group had ceased to follow their doctor's recommendations by four months post-diagnosis. Their non-compliance could not be explained by the fact that the women held understandings of their illnesses which were incongruent with their physician's; nor were they unable to understand the diagnosis they received. A consideration of the roles that their diagnosis and treatments played in their daily lives proved more useful in explaining their failure to follow physicians' recommendations. Patients' use of treatments reflected their desire to control symptoms within the constraints of their daily routines.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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