The management of COPD is complex and patient adherence to treatment recommendations is known to be poor. In this paper the methods used for evaluating adherence in COPD are compared. Self-reporting has satisfactory reliability and offers a cheap, simple and easy method for assessing adherent behaviors. Unlike the objective measures of adherence such as electronic monitoring, self-reporting helps in identifying the reasons for nonadherence, which in turn would be useful in addressing adherence issues. Patients do not follow their treatment recommendations either intentionally or unintentionally. Intentional deviations are driven by patient beliefs and experiences about illness and treatment, which are in turn influenced by social and cultural factors. Unintentional deviations are often due to cognitive impairment and lack of routines. Factors associated with adherence in COPD have been explained using the Becker-Maiman model. Strategies for overcoming nonadherence have to be formulated based on the nature and reasons for nonadherence. In the event of unintentional nonadherence, the use of adherence aids like Dosette boxes, calendar packs and reminders should be promoted. Understanding patient beliefs and experiences, patient education focusing on the pathology of COPD and the role of treatment, periodic monitoring and reinforcement are critical for overcoming the barriers of intentional nonadherence.