• Open Access

A systematic review of the research on communication between patients and health care professionals about medicines: the consequences for concordance


Fiona Stevenson
Lecturer in Medical Sociology
Department of Primary Care and Population Sciences
Royal Free and University College School of Medicine
Rowland Hill Street
London NW3 2PF
E-mail: f.stevenson@pcps.ucl.ac.uk


Objectives  We draw on a systematic review of research on two-way communication between patients and health practitioners about medicines in order to determine the extent to which concordance is, or is not, being put into practice.

Data sources  Six electronic databases were searched using the following categories of search terms: health care professionals, patients/consumers, medicine-taking/prescribing and communication. Articles were also identified from handsearches of journals, article reference lists and the Concordance website.

Review methods  Studies published between 1991 and 2000 were included. Studies were not excluded on the basis of design, methods or language employed. Abstracts of identified articles were assessed by at least two reviewers and the full articles were assessed by one reviewer and checked by at least one other reviewer. Data on the design, analysis and relevant findings were extracted.

Results  A total of 11 801 abstracts were reviewed and 470 full articles were retrieved. Of the 134 articles subsequently included, 116 were descriptive studies. All but 10 of the papers were written in English. There were mixed findings about the extent to which patients feel that their beliefs, experience and preferences about medicines can be shared. Doctors tend to dominate discussions in consultations, although patient participation is associated with positive outcomes. Health care professionals’ behaviour can impede as well as enhance patient involvement.

Conclusions  There is little research that examines fundamental issues for concordance such as whether an exchange of views takes place. It is possible that interventions are needed to facilitate the development of concordance in practice.