Saline Chronicles: The Dreaded C Word



I have a pet peeve. It is the word “compliance.”

This word is thrown around quite a bit in CF circles, especially among medical professionals.  It is used frequently in research papers, where there is an understanding of what it means.  Physicians and other researchers are very concerned that people with CF don’t always do everything that they are told to do to keep their disease and all of its various manifestations at bay.  If someone fails to do all required treatments or take all medications or exercise daily, they are coined “non-compliant.” Did I say that I hate that word?

Just do me a favor and check out your friendly thesaurus to find other words that mean the same thing.  Never mind, I’ll help you out. Here are a few:  docile, easy, manageable, meek, submissive, yielding.  In other words, spineless, with no worthwhile opinion on the matter. Now in the olden days, when Doctors were GOD (which is why I capitalized doctor), it was just assumed that one followed one’s doctor’s orders, no questions asked.  But times have changed, and if you don’t believe me, turn on your TV and count how many different pharmaceuticals tell you, the patient, to “ask your doctor if this could be right for you.”  Like it or not, patients are a very important part of the equation now.  This is a good thing (not the television commercial part…that is a very crazy and ridiculous thing).

I’m not harping on CF doctors.  I actually think most realize that the patient has very important information, like how much it is really possible for them to do in a given 24 hour period.  So why can’t we drop the word?

I have an alternative.  How about instead of the word compliance, we use “consistent.”  How consistent someone is with their thrice daily aerosols, or 250 pills to swallow, or blood glucose monitoring, or airway clearance technique of choice, or exercise, or any of the myriad other things we must do daily, sounds SO much better than “compliant.” There is no judgement in the word consistent.  It implies that we are all trying hard, but sometimes life gets in the way.  Check out some of the synonyms of my substitute word:  dependable, persistent, rational, steady, true, regular.  I like dependable and steady so much more than meek and submissive, don’t you?

What say you, CF peeps?

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3 Responses to “Saline Chronicles: The Dreaded C Word”
  1. liz says:

    OK-Not a CFer but I do have some thoughts about the word compliance. It relates to the ineffective structure of allopathic medicine. Oh, AM might work for surgical intervention, emergency medicine, and a number of other crisis type situations. But its structure is rigid, formulaic, punitive, and often omits a very important component in the DR/Patient relationship. The Patient. Stating someone is non-compliant is a judgment and Medicine loves that. It might imply that if a person is not improving, well, it ain’t THE DR’S fault…It is because the person is not following the Imperial Knowledge of Medicine.
    Allopathic Medicine does not like “chronic” illness that cannot be CURED. So they keep throwing their allopathy at the illness (and patient) and sigh with frustration. The humanity of living with an on-going illness is often overlooked. I don’t know…Maybe it freaks them out to say, “Hey, you don’t have to walk in a straight line in how you live”. They often seem to only want to deal with people that they can (think they) “cure”. Ego, anyone?
    I had chronic fatigue syndrome for 8 yrs. It has resolved quite well. If I had strolled down the path of allopathy with that, I don’t know that I would be here. Or certainly have the life I have today. I also worked for 15 yrs. with patients with chronic pain. I saw Drs. and Nurses alike judge these people as drug-seeking slouches when in reality…their medical model just didn’t fit with this population. In fact, it made things worse.
    So, that’s my two cents. I think in the end you have to just take these comments for what they are and blow ’em off. And just hang with your homies cuz they know what’s really going on. 😉

  2. Julie Desch says:

    Yup, my homies get it! Thanks Liz.

  3. Johanna says:

    God, I so agree! I hate the word compliant. I used to think sarcastically that if I was “non-compliant” the doctors would put little frowny faces in my chart. And then I took a kind of spiteful pleasure from that thought. Not the best motivational tool. I hate going to the CF clinic feeling pretty good, and then leaving feeling like a complete failure for all the things I am NOT doing.

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