Personality affects how likely we are to take our medication

May 10, 2011

The results of a unique study from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, show that personality has an impact on how likely people are to take their medication. This is the first major study of its kind to be published in the online journal PloS ONE.

The study was based on 749 people with who responded to a questionnaire on medication adherence behaviour, in other words whether they take their medicine. Their personalities were also assessed using another questionnaire, the Five Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI), which comprises 60 statements with five different responses. The questionnaire was based on five personality traits: neuroticism, extroversion, openness to experiences, and conscientiousness.

A person who is greatly influenced by conscientiousness can be described as target-oriented and structured. In the study this tied in well with how this type of person approached their medication as they were careful to follow the doctor's prescription. However, the of neuroticism can mean that a person is fairly anxious which, according to the study, had a on taking medication.

The researchers' results show that high scores for both of these personality traits can lead to lower levels of adherence. The same trend was evident when it came to agreeableness, which had a positive correlation with taking medication as prescribed.

"If the person with the trait of agreeableness also had a low score for conscientiousness, and is thus less methodical, this seemed to have a negative effect on ," says Malin Axelsson.

Her explanation for this is that people with high scores for conscientiousness are perhaps more likely to stick to their medication on account of a more structured temperament. On the other hand, those with low scores for the same personality trait can be described as slightly more unstructured and perhaps less inclined to introduce an element of routine into taking their medication.

"Both types may need different kinds of education and/or support," says Axelsson. "As such, it may be important to take different dominant personality traits into account when treating patients with chronic diseases. The results of similarly formulated interview questionnaires could help people to become more aware of their medication and access more tailored support and/or education from healthcare professionals."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Visual clues we use during walking and when we use them

July 25, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A trio of researchers with the University of Texas and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has discovered which phase of visual information processing during human walking is used most to guide the feet accurately. ...

Psychopaths are better at learning to lie, say researchers

July 25, 2017
Individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits are better at learning to lie than individuals who show few psychopathic traits, according to a study published in the open access journal Translational Psychiatry. The ...

Toddlers begin learning rules of reading, writing at very early age, study finds

July 25, 2017
Even the proudest of parents may struggle to find some semblance of meaning behind the seemingly random mish-mash of letters that often emerge from a toddler's first scribbled and scrawled attempts at putting words on paper.

Using money to buy time linked to increased happiness

July 24, 2017
New research is challenging the age-old adage that money can't buy happiness.

Higher cognitive abilities linked to greater risk of stereotyping

July 24, 2017
People with higher cognitive abilities are more likely to learn and apply social stereotypes, finds a new study. The results, stemming from a series of experiments, show that those with higher cognitive abilities also more ...

Exposure to violence hinders short-term memory, cognitive control

July 24, 2017
Being exposed to and actively remembering violent episodes—even those that happened up to a decade before—hinders short-term memory and cognitive control, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.