Pharmacophobia is the fear of medication or other pharmacological treatments. A medication phobia can also present in parents who are concerned about giving medications to their children, fearing that a medicine may do more harm than good. Sometimes patients mistakenly associate symptoms of an acute illness with side effects from prescribed medications, or can be skeptical of a treatment’s effectiveness or necessity. Pharmacophobia can lead to lasting problems with medication adherence, through fear or lack of understanding.

Healthcare providers can do a lot to educate their patients and improve adherence along with their health literacy.

Healthcare professional tips to help older patients improve adherence:

  • Learn about the challenges associated with medication adherence and why this issue is so important.
  • Use a patient-centered- centered approach allowing the patient to be the key decision-maker maker when it comes to taking their medicines.
  • Make sure the medicine regimen is convenient and simple. 
  • Encourage use of one pharmacy for all medications.
  • Help patients understand how to monitor the effect of their medicines so they see it is working.

Change patient behavior with value, trust, and education.

  • Make sure patients understand the value in taking their medication as prescribed.
  • The healthcare professional should leverage trust and work with the other healthcare team members and the patient so they can better understand their medications and reinforce messages to continue taking the medications as prescribed.
  • Be sure to educate the patient about how to track progress of the medication, understand the possible side effects, listen to their concerns and look for barriers such as costs, cultural bias, language difficulty and health literacy. 

Suggest a medication alert app to act as a medication reminder and keep patients on track.