Please login to the form below

COUCH study finds almost half of patients skip medication

Young people and less educated among those with less understanding of their health condition, according to UK-wide survey


Almost half of those with health conditions said that they skip their medication sometimes, despite knowing its benefits, while more than a quarter are unsure what to do if they experience side-effects, according to COUCH’s recently published report, ‘Are patients receiving value in terms of health literacy?

How well people understand their treatment determines how well they manage their health, but some demographics have a lack of understanding of how to manage their health condition. For example, those with lower education levels and of mixed ethnicity are more likely to report having less confidence in managing their health.

COUCH, the medical communications agency behind the report, set out to find if patients are getting value from their healthcare practitioner (HCP). This included providing patients with relevant information, ensuring they understand their illness and treatment, and furthermore, how to manage it.

Those of black ethnicity were the only group where some strongly disagreed that they understood side-effects of their medication.

Young people were also disproportionately affected when compared to other age groups, with more 19 to 24 year-olds reporting they don’t understand their health condition and how to manage it.

The survey also reveals a significant link between higher educational attainment and levels of health literacy, as higher educated participants reported a better understanding of their own health, as well as feeling more able to ask their doctor for clarification. Conversely, those with higher levels of education are also more likely to skip medication, possibly because of a, ‘perception that they are capable of self-diagnosis and medication’, the report states.

The survey goes on to conclude: ‘There is a clear link between ethnicity and educational status that cannot be ignored’.

The likelihood of a person following medication guidelines correctly was also dependent on the condition they were managing. While at least half of those with mental health, respiratory and musculoskeletal conditions reported skipping medication, no one with cancer reported doing so, suggesting a link between the life-shortening potential of a disease and a patients’ management of their treatment.

Participants also said HCPs are their first choice for healthcare information, followed by the internet.

COUCH’s report underlines the importance for patients to have a good relationship with their HCP, whom they say can also help educate patients on where to seek reliable internet-based information.

The report calls for more education targeting younger people, using approaches such as social media. It also states the importance for HCPs to understand the influence of age, ethnicity and educational background in forgetting to take medication.

The full report can be downloaded for free here:

14th May 2018



Company Details


+44 (0) 161 818 8399

Contact Website

4th Floor, Churchgate House
56, Oxford Street
M1 6EU
United Kingdom

Latest content on this profile

We need to be better for mental health sufferers
In support of World Mental Health Day, Manchester-based health communications agency, COUCH, is calling out for the industry to do more and to be better for those who need help in this area.
Improving medication adherence by increasing health literacy
Health literacy and therapy adherence are interlinked. Improving health literacy involves removing barriers that prevent patients’ medical understanding.
What pharma marketers can learn from behavioural science
Pharma behavioural science and traditional emotional marketing create a powerful mix of techniques that have impact on real lives.
Health knowledge: Why is it so important?
Health knowledge plays an important role in population health, but by itself is rarely enough to prompt a change in the behaviours that cause the risks.
COUCH study finds almost half of patients skip medication
Young people and less educated among those with less understanding of their health condition, according to UK-wide survey
Does a lack of understanding of human behaviour affect healthcare?
Only by synthesising research across multiple disciplines can we truly understand how to effect patient behaviour change