Difference Between Adherence and Compliance

Adherence and compliance are two terms that are often used in medicine, and it is quite common to see them being used synonymously. While it is somewhat inaccurate to do so, it must be mentioned that there is only a very thin line between adherence and compliance, thereby making it even harder to discern the real difference between the two.

What is Adherence?

Adherence is a term that is used commonly in medicine to refer to the act of the patient, by him or herself, adhering to the proper dosage of medicine, proper practices of hygiene, or practices of well-being. In adherence, the patient is empowered and takes matters into his or her own hands, thereby becoming a co-equal to the doctors. This is said to pave the way to mutual respect and caring between doctors and patients thereby creating a situation that is mutually beneficial, as well. Adherence includes acts such as therapy sessions, self-care or self-directed exercises.

Adherence has been seen to be a positive form of medicine that has shown enhanced treatment outcomes, thereby proving itself to be a beneficial practice for the human kind.

What is Compliance?

Compliance can be defined as following the instructions or recommendations of the doctor in proper amounts of medication dosing. Compliance can be seen as a paternalistic, uncaring and condescending sort of medicine where the patient pays a passive role. However, there are many barriers to compliance such as the complexity of modern healthcare regiments, poor health literacy, and the lack of comprehension of treatment benefits. Non-compliance has also become a major issue in the world today, as according to the World Health Organization, it has been estimated that in developed countries only 50% of the patients suffering from chronic diseases follow the recommendations given as part of treatment. As a means of improving compliance, methods such as simplifying the packaging of medication, improving the medical education of patients, limiting the number of prescribed medications and providing effective medication reminders has been suggested so far.

What is the difference between Adherence and Compliance?

There is absolutely no doubt that healthcare is perhaps the most important factor upon which, perhaps, even the future of the world depends on. Adherence and compliance are two words that are commonly used when it comes to healthcare, and these two words are often seen to be used synonymously at times. Yet it is inaccurate to do so.

• Adherence refers to the patient, him or herself, adhering to the proper practices of medicine. Compliance is when the patient follows the instructions of the doctor.

• Adherence empowers the patient thereby becoming co-equal to the doctors. Compliance is believed to be a paternalistic and condescending attitude towards medicine.

• It is believed that adherence has more advantages than compliance.