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March 1987

Patient Compliance vs Cooperation

Author Affiliations

Los Angeles

Arch Ophthalmol. 1987;105(3):315. doi:10.1001/archopht.1987.01060030029009

To the Editor.  —In Dr Muirhead's1 letter in the Archives, he objects to the word compliance when used to describe the extent to which a patient carries out a physician's treatment orders. He cites as evidence for this criticism the definition from Random House Dictionary of the English Language, "a tendency to yield readily to others, especially in a weak and subservient way." Dr Muirhead then recommends the expression "patient cooperation" rather than compliance.One of us (L.A.), as an author who has used the term patient compliance,2 initially felt uneasy about Dr Muirhead's objection. No doubt other writers on this subject likewise were disturbed. However, permit us to put fellow authors at ease. According to the oldest (1961) standard reference dictionary in the American language, Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged, compliance is also defined as "conformity in fulfilling formal or official requirements."

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