Sociobehavioral determinants of compliance with health and medical care recommendations

Med Care. 1975 Jan;13(1):10-24. doi: 10.1097/00005650-197501000-00002.


Over the past two decades, hundreds of articles, editorials, and commentaries have been published describing the considerable disruptive effects on quality of care of individuals noncompliance with health and medical advice. While much research has been directed at determining factors responsible for poor compliance, past studies have tended to focus upon easily measured characteristics of the patients, regimen, or illness which, unfortunately, are usually neither predictive nor alterable. This paper systematically reviews the literature on patient acceptance of recommended health behaviors, attempting to find social-psychological and related variables which have proven to be consistent predictors of compliance. The review suggests that certain health beliefs (especailly personal estimates of vulnerability to, and seriousness of, the disease, and faith in the efficacy of care), health-related motivations, perceptions of psychological and other costs of the recommended action, various aspects of the doctor-patient relationship, and social influence are the most productive dimensions for present intervention and further exploration. Building upon an earlier formulation, an hypothesized model is presented which combines these elements for explaining and predicting compliance behavior. Further research should, with standardized questionnaires and analysis techniques, employ prospective, experimental designs for a variety of population groups, settings, and regimens, to evaluate the ability of practical attempts to modify the model variables and thus enhance compliance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Continuity of Patient Care
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Motivation
  • Personality
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Preventive Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Probability
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Sick Role
  • Social Conformity
  • Socioeconomic Factors