Patient adherence and effective communication

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2016 Dec;117(6):613-619. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2016.08.029.


Background: Poor adherence to inhaled corticosteroid medication is a critical problem for asthma because it contributes to morbidity and mortality through poor asthma control, frequent asthma exacerbations, acute care visits, and oral corticosteroid use.

Objective: To discuss evidence-based, time-efficient strategies that can be adopted by most practitioners to try to increase patient adherence.

Methods: Asthma management guidelines and other key publications are used to enhance discussion.

Results: Establishing patient-centered, collaborative care that permits effective patient-practitioner communication can improve adherence, thus leading to improved asthma outcomes. One critical strategy is shared decision making, in which the patient and the practitioner share relevant information, discuss risks vs benefits of various treatment options, express treatment preferences, deliberate the options, and agree on treatment. Asthma self-management education, which emphasizes self-efficacy, is also essential. The education necessary to provide those skills depends in part on consideration of the patient's health literacy. Practitioners also have at their disposal a variety of tips and techniques to improve communication and gather information not only at the patient-practitioner level but also at the practitioner-practitioner level, such as within a group practice or within a health care system.

Conclusion: To improve patient adherence, clinicians need to consider a variety of factors and implement strategies that directly target underlying issues. Strategies may include customizing and simplifying learning and intervention regimens, identifying barriers to adherence and addressing them, ensuring patient support structures are in place, and improving self-efficacy and health literacy.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Health Communication*
  • Humans
  • Medication Adherence*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Self Care


  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents