Overcoming Barriers to Medication Adherence: Motivation

Jenny Glennon


Improve medication adherence by helping patients stay motivated

This is the fifth installation of our “Overcoming Barriers to Medication Adherence” blog series. Read our introductory blog post to learn the common characteristics of medication non-adherence and how to identify the patient-level barriers to adherence.

Motivation – or rather, a lack thereof – is a common barrier to medication adherence. It may seem that motivation is the elusive “holy grail” to managing health (i.e., if patients only did as the doctor ordered and took their prescriptions as prescribed, there wouldn’t be an issue). However, getting patients to take medications appropriately can be a complex, multifactorial process and lack of motivation on the part of the patient can derail even the most thought-out adherence program.  

To overcome gaps in motivation, medication adherence programs must focus on changing long-term patient behaviors — a one-off, short-term solution simply won’t do. Motivational interviewing, a counseling technique originally developed to help treat addiction, was designed to help patients identify and overcome the specific reasons why they may be reluctant (or unmotivated) to change their behavior. In a recent study, a meta-analysis of 72 randomized controlled trials showed significant benefit for motivational interviewing in achieving cholesterol and BP control, with psychologists and physicians able to achieve an effect in 80% of the studies.

In a recent Twitter poll conducted by Health Dialog,

we found that an overwhelming amount of consumers – 63% –

expressed that taking medications on a daily basis is an inconvenience.

Health Dialog has spent over 20 years testing and perfecting a health coaching behavior change framework that helps identify motivational gaps that lead to medication non-adherence.  Our Ready? Set. Go framework emphasizes:

  • Ready? Assessing a patient’s readiness to change
  • Set. Guiding patients to develop achievable health and wellness goals
  • Go! Helping patients to reach these goals and maintain improved behaviors over time

As part of this framework, our health coaches ask patients probing questions, such as:

  • When you think about the future and your health, what comes to mind in terms of taking your medications?
  • What do you think would have to happen for you to take this medication as prescribed?

When dealing with motivational gaps, it’s critical to identify each patient’s “readiness” level to make positive changes as well as the personal motivations, values, and preferences driving individual behaviors. This approach allows for a trusted and dynamic partnership in which coaches help patients set realistic short and long-term goals tailored to their personal journeys.

Learn how Health Dialog’s programs can improve medication adherence across a patient population by overcoming motivational gaps and other barriers

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