Patients' beliefs and preferences regarding doctors' medication recommendations

J Gen Intern Med. 2008 Mar;23(3):236-41. doi: 10.1007/s11606-007-0470-3. Epub 2008 Jan 18.


Background: An estimated 20-50% of patients do not take medications as recommended. Accepting a doctor's recommendation is the first step in medication adherence, yet little is known about patients' beliefs and preferences about how medications are prescribed.

Objective: To explore patients' beliefs and preferences about medication prescribing to understand factors that might affect medication adherence.

Methods: Fifty members from 2 health plans in Massachusetts participated in in-depth telephone interviews. Participants listened to an audio-vignette of a doctor prescribing a medication to a patient and were asked a series of questions related to the vignette. Responses were reviewed in an iterative process to identify themes related to participants' beliefs and preferences about medication prescribing.

Results: Participants' beliefs and preferences about medication prescribing encompassed 3 major areas: patient-doctor relationships, outside influences, and professional expertise. Important findings included participants' concerns about the pharmaceutical industry's influence on doctors' prescribing practices and beliefs that there is a clear "best" medication for most health problems.

Conclusions: Patients' beliefs and preferences about medication prescribing may affect medication adherence. Additional empiric studies that explore whether doctors' relationships with pharmaceutical representatives impact medication adherence by affecting trust are indicated. In addition, it would be worthwhile to explore whether discussions between patients and doctors regarding equipoise (no clear scientific evidence for 1 treatment choice over another) affect medication adherence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Decision Making
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Observer Variation
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Refusal / statistics & numerical data
  • Truth Disclosure
  • United States