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Despite the explosion of research into the effect of medical advice on patient behaviour, only about 50% of patients comply with long-term drug regimens. And when it comes to changes in lifestyle, the percentage of patients who comply with medical advice often falls to single figures. Review articles on compliance have traditionally concentrated on factors that make it easier for patients to adhere to medical advice. However, recent articles urge clinicians to be more understanding of the wider implications of compliance in their patients' lives. This article focuses on how clinicians' consulting methods can affect patients' behaviour. Specifically, the authors consider the patient-centred clinical method as well as insights from and consulting techniques pioneered in the addictions field that can help to bring ambivalent patients closer to decisions about change. Instead of seeing resistance to change as rooted entirely in the patient, the authors view it as stemming partly from the way clinicians talk to patients. An advice-giving approach is usually inadequate to motivate people to embark on major lifestyle changes. Instead, the authors propose a negotiation-based framework that harnesses patients' intrinsic motivation to make their own decisions. This approach also promotes clinicians' acceptance of patients' decisions, even if these decisions run counter to current medical wisdom.

Type

Journal article

Journal

CMAJ

Publication Date

28/05/1996

Volume

154

Pages

1357 - 1362