Reports From the Field

Using the Common Sense Model in Daily Clinical Practice for Improving Medication Adherence



From Genoa-QoL Healthcare and the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy, Ann Arbor, MI.


  • Objective: To review the Common Sense Model, a framework that can be used for understanding patients’ behavior, including taking or not taking medications as prescribed.
  • Methods: Descriptive report.
  • Results: Medication adherence, a critical component of achieving good patient outcomes and reducing medical costs, is dependent upon patient illness beliefs. The Common Sense Model holds that these beliefs can be categorized as illness identity, cause, consequence, control, and timeline. Effective communication is necessary to understand the beliefs that patients hold and help them understand their condition. Good communication also can allay fears and other emotions that can be disruptive to achieving good outcomes.
  • Conclusion: Clinicians should seek to understand their patients’ illness beliefs and collaborate with them to achieve desired health outcomes.

Clinical practice is based on scientific evidence, by which medical problems are diagnosed and treatment recommendations are made. However, the role of the patient may not be completely recognized as an integral part of the process of patient care. The impact of failing to adequately recognize the patient perspective is evident in medication nonadherence. Health psychology research can provide clinicians insight into patients’ perceptions and behavior. This paper reviews the Common Sense Model (CSM), a behavioral model that provides a framework that can be used in understanding patients’ behavior. In this paper I will discuss the model and how it can be a possible strategy for improving adherence.


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