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Nakata, Cheryl; Sharp, Lisa K.; Spanjol, Jelena; Cui, Anna Shaojie; Izberk-Bilgin, Elif; Crawford, Stephanie Y. and Xiao, Yazhen (2021): Narrative arcs and shaping influences in long-term medication adherence. In: Social Science & Medicine, Vol. 285, 114264

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Long-term adherence to medications is not well understood and poses a significant challenge for many chronically ill persons. Past research provides insights on adherence in short durations such as a day or several weeks, even though chronically ill patients are required to take medications for periods as long as a lifetime. To fill this important knowledge gap, we study the temporal unfolding of prolonged medication-taking experiences among thirty adults, mostly African American, with chronic hypertension in the U.S. Specifically, we take an extended, experience-centered, narrative approach to examine retrospective patient accounts of adherence efforts over spans of one year to more than four decades. Applying Gergen and Gergen's concept of narrative forms (1983), we find four distinct narrative arcs, or patterned sequences of medication consumption, that we term Out of the Gate, Existential Turn, Fits and Starts, and Slow Climb, along with individual and social elements that shape and shift practices in the context of time.

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