Background: Adherence to medication is low in specific populations who need chronic medication. However, adherence to medication is also of interest in a more general fashion, independent of specific populations or side effects of particular drugs. If clinicians and researchers expect patients to show close to full adherence, it is relevant to know how likely the achievement of this goal is. Population based rates can provide an estimate of efforts needed to achieve near complete adherence in patient populations. The objective of the study was to collect normative data for medication nonadherence in the general population. Methods and Findings: We assessed 2,512 persons (a representative sample of German population). Adherence was measured by Rief Adherence Index. We also assessed current medication intake and side effects. We found that at least 33% of Germans repeatedly fail to follow their doctor's recommendations regarding pharmacological treatments and only 25% of Germans describe themselves as fully adherent. Nonadherence to medication occurs more often in younger patients with higher socioeconomic status taking short-term medications than in older patients with chronic conditions. Experience with medication side effects was the most prominent predictor of nonadherence. Conclusions: The major strengths of our study are a representative sample and a novel approach to assess adherence. Nonadherece seems to be commonplace in the general population. Therefore adherence cannot be expected per se but needs special efforts on behalf of prescribers and public health initiatives. Nonadherence to medication should not only be considered as a drug-specific behaviour problem, but as a behaviour pattern that is independent of the prescribed medication. © 2012 Glombiewski et al.
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