A gentle nudge

With an estimated half of all patients not taking their medicines as prescribed, and the knock-on effect this has on both the general health of the public and public healthcare costs, a new study set out to find the best ways of boosting compliance.

The research from Boots UK, University College London, and Columbia Business School (US) and funded by the Department of Health and Social Care, aimed first to understand why patients were failing to adhere to their medication prescriptions, and then tested different behavioural ‘nudges’ – subtle changes to the patient’s environment.

These nudges included asking patients to sign a sticker affixed to their medication packaging committing themselves to completing their medication, passing on messages warning them of the adverse consequences to their own health of non-adherence, and warning them of the financial costs to society when not taking their medication as prescribed.

Marc Donovan, chief pharmacist at Boots, said: “This study is important in looking at how community pharmacy can take the lead on this issue by using simple behavioral nudge theories, ultimately helping make important services like the new medicine service more effective for patients as well as saving the NHS money.”

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