Rational Noncompliance With Prescribed Medical Treatment
Stewart, Douglas O
DeMarco, Joseph P
Kennedy Institute of Ethics journal 2010 Sep; 20(3): 277-90
Despite the attention that patient noncompliance has received from medical researchers, patient noncompliance remains poorly understood and difficult to alter. With a better theory of patient noncompliance, both greater success in achieving compliance and greater respect for patient decision making are likely. The theory presented, which uses a microeconomic approach, bridges a gap in the extant literature that has so far ignored the contributions of this classic perspective on decision making involving the tradeoff of costs and benefits. The model also generates a surprising conclusion: that patients are typically acting rationally when they refuse to comply with certain treatments. However, compliance is predicted to rise with increased benefits and reduced costs. The prediction that noncompliance is rational is especially true in chronic conditions at the point that treatment begins to move closer to the medically ideal treatment level. Although the details of this theory have not been tested empirically, it is well supported by existing prospective and retrospective studies.
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