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Comment & Response
October 9, 2013

Nonadherence to Medications

Author Affiliations
  • 1Center for Ethics, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia
  • 2University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock
JAMA. 2013;310(14):1504-1505. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.277296

To the Editor We take issue with both the characterization of medication nonadherence by Dr Marcum and colleagues1 as a “diagnosable and treatable medical condition” and at the physician-centered nature of these claims.

First, although there is value in a systematic approach to medication nonadherence, we disagree with medicalizing the issue. Classifying a condition as a disease or illness is not value neutral; medicalizing the problem entails labeling the issue in ways that can have negative effects (such as stigma) on those who fall into this category.2 Adding another disease to a list of problems experienced by many nonadherent patients may create additional vulnerability.

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