Apparent treatment-resistant hypertension - patient-physician relationship and ethical issues

Blood Press. 2017 Jun;26(3):133-138. doi: 10.1080/08037051.2016.1277129. Epub 2017 Jan 12.


Background: Poor drug adherence is a major cause of apparent treatment-resistant hypertension. As a consequence, several methods have been developed and attempted implemented in clinical practice to reveal non-adherence and to monitor drug adherence. There are, however, several hitherto unresolved ethical aspects regarding potential methods for drug monitoring in these patients.

Results: The most striking challenge is the balance between patient autonomy and the physician's desire for the patient to adhere to the prescribed therapy. Also, methods for monitoring must only be implemented in the treatment of well-informed and consenting patients. Major resources are used on non-adherent patients; how long the physician should encourage continuation of treatment is an important question.

Conclusions: We believe that physicians should reflect and discuss these potential challenges, and that patient education, information and a solid patient-physician relationship are essential for achieving drug adherence. Methods for monitoring adherence represent, however, a useful and often necessary supplement.

Keywords: Ethical aspects; blood pressure-lowering treatment; drug adherence; treatment-resistant hypertension.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Blood Pressure
  • Drug Monitoring / psychology
  • Drug Resistance*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Hypertension / psychology*
  • Informed Consent
  • Patient Compliance / psychology*
  • Patient Medication Knowledge
  • Patient Participation / psychology
  • Patients / psychology
  • Physician-Patient Relations / ethics*
  • Physicians / psychology


  • Antihypertensive Agents