Interventions and tools to help improve medication adherence, where comprehension (capability) or language (opportunity) issues have been identified as factors.

Improving understanding

Individuals may have some difficulty understanding how to use or take medicines. There is evidence that reducing the number or frequency of medicines where possible can improve adherence. Healthcare professionals may find our selection of tools and resources helpful when undertaking medication review.

Community pharmacies offer a New Medicines Service (NMS) to provide support for people with long-term conditions newly prescribed a medicine to help improve medicines adherence.

The NHS website hosts an A to Z list of medicines. Each monograph covers how the medicine works, how and when to take it, possible side effects, and answers to common questions.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) produce patient decision aids to support implementation of its guidelines.

Healthcare professionals may want to signpost to condition specific websites e.g. Diabetes UK, British Heart Foundation, Asthma + Lung UK.

Language barriers

People with limited or no English may face difficulties in accessing and understanding services, which may affect adherence and increase health inequalities.

Please visit our webinar on medication inequalities for further information.

Interpreter services

Each NHS organisation has guidance and policies on accessing and using interpreter services. Enlisting the help of other healthcare professionals who speak the language, or patients and relatives, is also an option but consideration should be given to maintaining patient confidentiality.

Pharmacy label translation

Translabel is a freely accessible service used to produce labels in other languages. Labels are for use in addition to standard labels as they don’t include all the text required by law.

Patient Information Leaflets (PIL)

X-PIL is a free service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week where people can request PILs:

  • in large/clear print
  • in Braille
  • on audio CD

The caller will need to provide the following information:

  • the name of the medicine
  • the medicine’s product code number

Manufacturers may be able to provide PILs in other languages and should be contacted directly.

Lower or no reading ability

A variety of resources are available to assist individuals with a lower or no reading ability:

Health Literacy Guide

The Health literacy ‘how to’ guide describes practical tools and techniques that practitioners can use to effectively support people with low levels of health literacy.

Pictogram Library for medicines

USP Pictograms are standardised graphic images that help convey important medication instructions, precautions, and warnings. The USP library offers 81 pictograms in .gif or .eps format which can be downloaded after accepting the United States Pharmacopeial Convention’s license agreement.

They are available free after registering to access.