A colleague of mine recently reported that, in talking with patients just after they have been prescribed a drug by their primary care doctor or specialist for a chronic condition, he found that they often do not understand the purpose of the drug and, in particular, how long they should take it. The result can be non-compliance with the regime they have been given, leading to a tapering off or discontinuation of a drug that is supposed to be taken for an extended period of time.
This perked my interest in that clearly one aspect of quality of care has to do with people's understanding of drug regimes they have been given. If a drug is really important to someone's health and poor understanding leads to non-compliance, then the result will not be good.
I am curious and would like to hear from those of you knowledgeable on this topic. Is this a common problem? Is the problem indeed a lack of effective communication between the doctor and the patient? If so, have any efforts been made by anybody to test out alternative ways of communicating this information to patients? I would guess that the drug companies out there might have studied this problem, but have doctors or insurers or Medicare?