Understanding Non-Adherence From the Inside: Hypertensive Patients’ Motivations for Adhering and Not Adhering

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Patients’ low adherence to medical treatment in chronic illnesses is one of the biggest public health problems. Numerous studies attend to the diverse factors associated with patient adherence. However, little research has been done to explore patients’ reasons for non-compliance from their own point of view. In this article, we aim to understand patient non-adherence using dialogical self-theory and qualitative research methods. We interviewed 51 hypertensive patients to explore their anti- and pro-adherence motivations. Results show that most patients adhere and non-adhere to different aspects of treatment programs (medication, exercise, diet) according to the way they construct meaning to those activities. Also, our findings support the notion that patients’ non-adherent behavior aims to preserve important values such as self-esteem, autonomy, affiliation, well-being, freedom, and health (or that more adherence is not worth the extra effort). We discuss the therapeutic relevance of empathically understanding patients’ worldview and implicit beliefs.

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