Australian Journal of Pharmacy

An Unlikely Connection: Loneliness and Medication Adherence

We need an evolution of pharmacy practice that deeply appreciates the effects of loneliness and social isolation on medication adherence, writes Jenny Kirschner.

Experienced pharmacists scan patients for medication adherence gaps as an always-on approach to pharmacy practice. Yet, most pharmacists have not been primed to look for loneliness as a contributing factor to poor medication adherence.

Now we have research to validate the unlikely connection between loneliness and medication adherence. With loneliness deemed a global priority by the WHO, this research should drive pharmacists to actively scan for loneliness to improve medication adherence and health outcomes.

Loneliness and social isolation are examples of the Social Determinants of Health (SDH). The SDH speak to the non-medical factors that influence health outcomes. Other examples include food security, education, transportation and income. In order to achieve optimal medication adherence, we rely on a number of SDH.