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Medical Writings |

The Language of Medication-Taking

John F. Steiner, MD, MPH; and Mark A. Earnest, MD
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Drs. Steiner and Earnest: University of Colorado Health Sciences Center; Denver, CO 80262

Acknowledgments: The authors thank Robert Anderson, MD; Jean Kutner, MD, MSPH; Frederic Platt, MD; and Jack Westfall, MD, MPH, for their comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript.

Requests for Single Reprints: John F. Steiner, MD, MPH, Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Box B-180, 4200 East Ninth Avenue, Denver, CO 80262.

Requests To Purchase Bulk Reprints (minimum, 100 copies): the Reprints Coordinator; phone, 215-351-2657; e-mail, reprints@mail.acponline.org.

Current Author Addresses: Drs. Steiner and Earnest: Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Box B-180, 4200 East Ninth Avenue, Denver, CO 80262.

Ann Intern Med. 2000;132(11):926-930. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-132-11-200006060-00026
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Over the past 50 years, periods of intensive clinical and research interest in medication-taking have coincided with breakthroughs in drug development, such as antibiotics for infectious diseases in the 1950s (13), medications for hypertension in the 1960s and 1970s (45), and highly active antiretroviral therapy for HIV infection in the 1990s (610). Hundreds of studies have found that only 50% to 60% of patients consume their medications for chronic diseases as prescribed (5), yet intensive, multimodal interventions often only marginally improve medication-taking or therapeutic outcomes (1112). Because medication-taking remains a clinically important problem despite 50 years of study, reassessment of an issue as basic as the language we use to describe it may be necessary to identify new strategies for clinical intervention and research.

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