Treatments fail for a number of reasons. These include the failure of medicines at a molecular level, failure to achieve the correct diagnosis and therefore use of the correct medication, problems surrounding the doctor-patient relationship, and failure of the service to meet patients' expectations. Compliance is characteristically viewed as the major cause of treatment failures but implicit in the use of the term compliance is the reliance on an imbalance of power where the patient follows what is ordered. Such an approach is likely to lead to failure. A better model is concerned with promoting the full participation of the patient to generate a therapeutic alliance. Despite the need for parental administration and a daily therapeutic regimen there appears to be little evidence to suggest that concordance is a major problem in growth hormone therapy. This is probably because treatment administration relies on the presence of a carer and there are tangible effects. However, concordance is likely to be an issue where there is mismatch between the patient's expectations and those of the doctor. Such a situation may arise when the therapeutic margin is narrow or the therapeutic effect minimal. To resolve this situation, adequate pre-intervention discussion is essential, which should include a clear statement of short- and long-term treatment targets and the likelihood of these being achieved or not. Carefully constructed health care plans are the key and should include educational programmes, home support and regular reinforcement. When concordance problems are suspected, careful consideration needs to be given as to whether the diagnosis is correct, is the treatment really effective and appropriate and does the patient really want the treatment.
Copyright 1999 S. Karger AG, Basel