Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics


Partner: National UK Pharmacy (project ongoing)


Non-adherence to medical prescription regimes (i.e. failure to follow prescription instructions) is a major health policy challenge: It affects almost 50% of patients with chronic disease, and leads to sub-optimal health outcomes, antimicrobial resistance and massive waste in medicines (WHO, 2003). Using a method pre-tested in CeDEx research (see publication on voter registration)  this project assesses the effects of different types of patient communication (eventually reaching around 13,000 individuals) on adherence rates.

Approach and Method

A randomised control trial assesses the impact of communications on patients receiving prescriptions that are framed as either gains or losses (better health from adherence verus worse health from non-adherence).  It also investigates the efficacy of different types of message content. 

For some patients, communication highlights the personal advantages of prescription adherence; for others, the advantages of adherence to the wider community are highlighted; for a third group, the financial losses associated with wasted medication are emphasized; and for a final group, the financial costs of non-adherence to the health service are emphasized.


The pilot stage of the experiment was completed by August 2019. We recruited three local Nottingham Boots pharmacy stores to participate in the pre-test of our field experiment. This has set us up for a larger roll-out starting in February 2020. We successfully secured funding for this next stage of the project from the ESRC. The trial will involve 60 Boots pharmacy stores in the Manchester locality. We expect to have the results by September 2020.

Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics

Sir Clive Granger Building
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0)115 951 5458
Enquiries: jose.guinotsaporta@nottingham.ac.uk
Experiments: cedex@nottingham.ac.uk