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Overcoming medication refusal using a patient-centered approach

SSW Professor's John Belcher, PhD, Fred DiBlasio, PhD, and SSW student Amanada Turnquist have co-authored the paper "Overcoming medication refusal using a patient-centered approach," that was recently published in Social Work in Mental Health. Lynn Siegfried, a social work in private practice also co-authored the work.

ABSTRACT: The refusal of psychotropic medication is a challenge faced by many healthcare providers when treating patients with mental illness. Controversy surrounds medication refusal because some mental health professionals believe that psychiatric patients should be forced to take medications for the safety of the general public, while patients are often acutely aware of potential lifelong adverse side effects and are sometimes reluctant to comply. The proposed alternative to this problem begins with developing the patient-provider relationship through a patient-centered approach. This approach emphasizes the individual needs of patients and creates opportunities for input from patients about their care, which helps form relationships of mutual trust and respect between patients and providers. This article explores the literature to: (1) understand some of the challenges and controversies involved in patient medication refusal from a clinical and societal level; (2) identify some issues in a patient-centered approach; and (3) make some brief clinical and policy recommendations that might help to bring about an increase in the use of patient-centered care. Hopefully, as efforts are made toward a patient-centered approach, increased psychotropic medication adherence and decreased medication coercion will result as providers listen and act upon the needs of their patients.

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