Basic and Applied Memory Research: Practical Applications - Vol. 2

By Douglas J. Herrmann; Cathy McEvoy et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN Remembering to Take Medications: The Importance of Nonmemory Variables

Denise C. Park

Christopher B. Mayhorn

The University of Georgia

An everyday behavior that is frequently cited as an example of a practical memory problem is remembering to take medication correctly ( Wilkins & Baddeley, 1988). The term medication adherence is typically used to describe accurate use of medication, that is, taking the appropriate number of doses at the right time in the amount prescribed by a physician ( Park, 1992). Despite the interest taken by memory researchers in medication adherence, the majority of literature on the topic reflects a biomedical and psychosocial framework, with relatively little attention explicitly paid to the cognitive aspects of the behavior. Within the biomedical domain, the relationship of variables such as illness severity, nature of symptoms, side effects associated with medications, number of pills prescribed, and demographic variables to medication adherence have been examined ( Hulka, 1979; Rowe, Ahronheim, & Lawton, 1992). An even broader range of psychosocial variables have been hypothesized to affect adherence ( Park, 1994), including the role of patient beliefs about illness and medications ( Becker, 1989), the effects of social support ( Ferguson & Bole, 1979), doctor-patient relationships ( Geertsen , Gray, & Ward, 1973), and coping style ( Folkman, Bernstein, & Lazarus, 1987). Within the cognitive domain, Park and Kidder (in press) reviewed and analyzed the cognitive components of medication adherence in detail, particularly the relationship of working memory and long-term memory variables to the prospective aspects of medication adherence.

The fact that such a broad range of perspectives that span so many areas of psychology as well as medicine have been used to study medication

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