Despite the well-documented effectiveness of psychiatric medication, studies reveal that it is used by only approximately half of those for whom it is prescribed. Whereas large-scale studies have focused primarily on the consequences of not taking medication as prescribed, a number of recent qualitative studies have tried to understand the phenomenon from the perspective of consumers. Findings have revealed that nonadherence may not always reflect psychopathology or a lack of insight, but rather a personal choice directed toward engaging in activities that provide meaning and purpose.
In this article, we review the literature on medication use, emphasizing the importance of the practitioner-consumer relationship. We also present a recovery-oriented perspective to understand consumers' choices regarding medication use and discuss practical guidelines for psychiatric nurses.