Compliance, adherence, and concordance: implications for asthma treatment
Good-quality outcomes in asthma hinge not just on the availability of medications but also on their appropriate use by patients: optimal "self-management." In asthma, low rates of adherence to prophylactic (preventer) medication are associated with higher rates of hospitalization and death. Many patients choose not to take their medication because they perceive it to be unnecessary or because they are concerned about potential adverse effects. Approximately one third of asthma patients have strong concerns about adverse effects from inhaled corticosteroids (ICS). These concerns are not just related to the experience of local symptoms attributed to ICS side effects, but also include more abstract concerns about the future, arising from the belief that regular use of ICS will result in adverse long-term effects or dependence. We need more effective ways of eliciting and addressing patients' concerns about ICS. The development of ICS options with an improved safety profile remains a key objective. However, the ideal solution is not just pharmacologic. We also need more effective ways of communicating the relative benefits and risks to patients in order to facilitate informed adherence. Clinicians must be prepared to work in an ongoing partnership with patients to ensure that they are offered a clear rationale as to why ICS are necessary and to address their concerns about potential adverse effects. This approach, based on a detailed examination of patients' perspectives on asthma and its treatment, and an open, nonjudgmental manner on the part of the clinician, is consistent with the idea of concordance.