Have you had patients who failed to recover from their injury for no obvious medical reason? It is possible that their treatment program was inappropriate, but it is also very likely that the patient failed to adhere to the prescribed program as desired. Over half of physiotherapy patients do not adhere to their treatments. This article will address the reasons why this happens, and what you can do about it.
Why don’t patients adhere to treatment programs?
Disease or Injury-related causes:
- Symptoms are absent – Studies have shown that patients who think their injury is more serious will adhere more closely to treatment programs. So when patients see that their symptoms have subsided, they feel that they have recovered and are more likely to stray from physiotherapy.
- Injury is chronic – Chronic injuries usually require long-term self-management programs. Many patients have difficulty incorporating their physiotherapy programs into their everyday lives.
- Poor scheduling of treatments – Patients are less likely to adhere when their treatments are scheduled at times that they perceive to be busy. They are also less likely to adhere when the appointments are booked too far in advance.
- Unwelcoming clinic atmosphere – Higher levels of adherence are associated with the patient perceiving that the clinic atmosphere is welcoming.
- Patient is “too busy” – Patients have a hard time incorporating treatments into their daily lives. They are too busy and treatments often slip their minds.
Patient-Therapist relationship related causes:
- Lack of monitoring – It is possible that the patient is not being monitored often enough. Consistent and positive monitoring has been shown to be correlated with adherence.
- Too much information – Information overload is another cause of low adherence – especially too much irrelevant information.
How can I improve patients’ adherence rates?
- Explain to patients the importance of continuing therapy even in the absence of symptoms.
- Give patients several choices when scheduling appointments. Do not schedule too far ahead.
- Ensure that you, your coworkers and your staff have a positive and welcoming attitude. Learn personal details about your patients and address them by name.
- Work with the patient to associate therapy with other daily activities, so it becomes a part of their routine.
- Always encourage your patients to complete home exercises, offer positive feedback, and monitor their exercises. Do not be confrontational or judgmental during your assessments, since many patients are embarrassed by their lack of adherence.
- Provide your patients with information that is useful and relevant to their specific condition or injury.