Knowing Patients' Goals Improves Med Compliance
Medications may help psychiatric patients get better, but “getting better” is a “profoundly value-laden term,” said Ronald Diamond, M.D., a professor of psychiatry in the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin.
“‘Better’ means different things to different people,” said Diamond at APA’s Institute on Psychiatric Services in New York. “It could be subjective improvement for the patient, better functioning, symptom improvement, reduced distress, or simply not getting worse.”
What does the patient hope the medication will do? Try to agree on specific, concrete, detailed, outcomes based on observable behaviors, he said. “Our job is not to convince patients to take medications, but to structure the flow of information to help them to make good decisions about their conditions and treatments,” he said.
Medications are a tool for recovery and can make nonpharmacological treatments more effective.

“Medications are never a goal of treatment; rather, they can help patients reach their own goals,” said Diamond. “Ambivalence about medications is normal, but people will take them if they feel they will help them and won’t if they don’t.”