September Blog: Failing to Make the Grade: Too Many Americans Missing the Mark on Medication Adherence

According to the results of the first national report card on medication adherence, the majority of Americans taking medication for a chronic condition only manage a C-plus when it comes to taking medication as prescribed. A startling one in seven earns an F.The report card was generated following a survey that included a national sample of 1,020 adults age 40 and older taking medication for a chronic health condition. At 57 percent, the most common condition was high blood pressure. High cholesterol was second at 47 percent. Respondents were asked if in the past 12 months they:

  • Failed to fill or refill a prescription;
  • Missed a dose;
  • Took a lower or higher dose than prescribed;
  • Stopped taking a medication early;
  • Took an old medication for a new problem;
  • Took someone else’s medication; and/or
  • Forgot whether they’d taken a medication.


Although one in ten of those surveyed said that it’s important to take medication exactly as prescribed, about three quarters of respondents admitted to at least one of the medication mishaps listed above. More than half admitted to multiple infractions.

The overall results are troubling:

  • 57 percent missed a dose;
  • 30 percent forgot whether they took a medication;
  • 28 percent did not refill a prescription on time;
  • 22 percent took a lower dose than prescribed;
  • 20 percent did not fill the prescription;
  • 14 percent stopped taking their medication early;
  • 7 percent took an old prescription for a new condition;
  • 6 percent took a higher dose than prescribed; and
  • 5 percent took someone else’s prescription.


According to the survey, the odds of success greatly improve when patients have a good relationship with their doctor and pharmacist. The report also indicated that compliance is more likely when patients recognize the importance of taking their medication exactly as prescribed and feel well informed about their health. Not surprisingly, nearly a third of those surveyed said that non-compliance was in large part due to an inability to pay for their medication. Another reason cited was unwanted side effects.

How do you rate when it comes to taking your medication? If you see yourself in some of the unhealthy behaviors listed above, discuss with your Summit Medical Group primary care physician the reasons you’re missing the mark when it comes to taking your medication.