Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

pp 1-7

Date: Latest Version


  • M. Bryant HowrenAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, The University of Iowa &VA Iowa City Healthcare System Email author 


Patient compliance


Adherence is a term used to describe the extent to which an individual’s behavior coincides with health-related instructions or recommendations given by a health-care provider in the context of a specific disease or disorder. The term has been used extensively in psychology and medicine in reference to acute, chronic, and preventive treatment regimens (e.g., a course of prescribed medication, wound self-care), preventive health screenings, dietary restriction, exercise recommendations, smoking cessation, and other health behaviors. Although adherence is synonymous with compliance in many contexts, the former is often preferred by behavioral scientists and allied health professionals given its emphasis of patient-provider collaboration as opposed to a more authoritarian, provider-centered exchange.


Extent and Implications of Nonadherence

Despite significant advances in biomedical science related to the treatment of disease, the problem of non ...

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