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From the Publisher
October 1, 2010   
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Do patients always do what their doctors tell them? No more than one in ten of my friends and colleagues follow their doctors’ recommendations to the letter. The rest are flexible in how they follow their doctor’s advice, to put it mildly.

Many patients are overconfident in their own views, ignore the recommended course of treatment, and for thousands of other reasons do not take their medicine as prescribed—sometimes taking more, sometimes less, and not always regularly. We don’t always exercise even though we know that we should, and we tend to eat and drink too much, especially when it comes to the wrong food. This problem is as old as time, and seems impervious to change.

The cost of health services and treatment related to patient noncompliance in Poland—a country of 40 million—is estimated at around zl.6 billion a year, which is more or less the equivalent of what the National Health Fund spends annually on basic healthcare, according to Przemys³aw Kardas, M.D., head of the 1st Family Medicine Department at the Medical University of £ód¼ and the special guest of this issue of The Polish Science Voice.

Patients in other countries are just as reluctant to comply with medical advice, according to Dr. Kardas. Research shows that up to 50 percent of patients fail to follow their doctors’ recommendations. This happens in the case of both chronic conditions and acute diseases like infections.

Kardas is the scientific coordinator of a European Union project called Ascertaining Barriers for Compliance (ABC), which aims to prevent patient noncompliance in Europe. Kardas also came up with the idea for the project, whose main goal is to develop a set of recommendations for health policy makers, including ministries, central EU institutions and the World Health Organization by 2012. According to Kardas, these institutions will be interested in pursuing activities aimed at ensuring medical treatment is more effective “so that better quality of health can be attained for the same money.” Apart from looking for the most efficient preventive measures, the ABC project seeks to raise awareness of the problem among the medical community in Europe. The researchers plan to come up with guidelines for institutions training physicians, nurses and pharmacists.

The ABC project was launched in response to an appeal from the European Commission as part of the EU’s 7th Framework Program and is partially financed from EU funds. The project began in 2009 and will run until 2012 covering 16 European countries. It is being carried out by an international research consortium led by the Medical University of £ód¼.

That institution is not the only Polish university that has made it big on the international arena. The Polish Science Voice regularly reports on the successes of various universities in this country. In this issue, we focus on the southern Silesia region and pay a visit to the University of Economics in Katowice, one of the region’s oldest, and Humanitas University in Sosnowiec, the largest private university in the province.

As usual, we also report on researchers, inventors and innovators who have been singled out for praise for their work.
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