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Is Non-Compliance Keeping You Sick?

January 12, 2010 by  

Is Non-Compliance Keeping You Sick?

It’s an all too common story. People suffer from long-term pain and illness, so they go see a doctor or healer for help and then expect the problem to somehow magically disappear without substantial effort on their part.

The problem is most health issues—especially chronic ones—almost always demand time and patient effort to correct. Some of you may disagree, as one of my patients did (let’s call her Laura).

Laura was excited about the migraine program I put her on and was garnering results for the first two weeks. Then she started to slip back to her old symptoms. I asked her if she was doing what I asked of her, every day. She said that no, her schedule did not permit her to do everything I asked. I told her we are partners in her health. I am the director and she is the doer. She disagreed. Here’s how part of the conversation went.

“As a healer, Laura, it is my job to educate you about your health concerns. It is my job to instruct you as to how lifestyle modifications including diet, exercise, sleep, thoughts and work habits can affect your health for better or worse. It is my job to do whatever I can manually to your body and energy to assist in the healing process.

“However, it is your job to help yourself. Eighty percent of this corrective effort and healing process is in your hands. You are responsible on a daily basis for doing what needs to be done to change your cycle of pain into a cycle of wellness.”

Her reply: “I disagree with you, Dr. Wiley! How can you expect a patient who is in pain to be able to do what you ask? We come to you for help, and we expect you to make us better. It is your job, not ours.”

Wow! Her last comment leads me to the point of this article. Non-compliance is not only a big issue, for some it is also a symptom.

When you are dealing with powerful pharma drugs, generally your pain or ill health symptom will go away as long as you take the meds. The pain or rash or high blood pressure may return, but if you take another pill, it again will disappear. And since it shows faster results, you would think that patient compliance with Western medicine should be better than that of alternative therapies. The opposite is true. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that billions of dollars per year are lost in the health industry due to patients not filling their prescriptions.

They couldn’t even make a trip to the pharmacy! No wonder they don’t exercise, meditate or attend all of their acupuncture or chiropractic visits. Yet for those individuals seeking alternative therapies for their health concerns, compliance plays an even more central role.

For starters, remember that the money you spend may be your own. Most alternative practitioners do not (or cannot) accept insurance. So patient compliance involves hard-earned out-of-pocket cash being spent on treatment, herbs, supplements, gym memberships, personal trainers, life coaches and so on.

What’s more, most alternative practices view the body as a whole system and, as such, bringing the body back to wellness, back to wholeness, requires a synergistic approach. And this approach includes hands-on treatments—be they massage, acupuncture or Rolfing®—and also modifications of daily lifestyle and activities, as well as diet and herbal or supplemental requirements, and the carrying out of mind and/or body exercises.

One would think the person choosing natural methods of correcting imbalances in the body is ready and willing to do whatever they need to carry out the wellness protocol. But unfortunately, this is not always the case. 

I can’t tell you how many hundreds of times patients have said to me, “I’ve tried everything, and no one can help me. I did acupuncture a few times, and it didn’t work. I changed my diet, and that didn’t work…” etc. Yet after questioning, I find that they only attended three acupuncture treatments when the course of treatment was a minimum of 10. And that they “watched” their diet and decided they could just eat what they wanted “within reason,” when in fact the dietitian was clear that specific foods must be avoided and others should be added.

If you are not willing or able to carry out the directed healing approach, then how can you expect to get better from that approach?

If a patient requires a strengthening of their core muscles (abdomen, hips, low back) and are also told that they absolutely must refrain from drinking caffeine and consuming dairy products, they must do it. There is nothing in the world any healer can do to make this happen for them.

When chronic back pain is due to weak muscles or a muscle imbalance, it is only the patient who can strengthen those muscles. If too much caffeine in the diet causes headaches, it is the patient alone who must remove that substance from her diet. It is not ok to have just "that one cup" in the morning and to skip the gym when you don’t feel up to it. It’s causing your pain and making you sick!

It couldn’t possibly be more obvious. Many health problems are partly (and often mostly) self-induced. This means that people cause their own problems, or at least aggravate them or do things to prevent them from being corrected. 

So I’m afraid I found it difficult to sympathize with Laura. She refused to do what was asked of her for her own benefit, yet complained she was not seeing the results she expected, despite the fact, for the first few weeks, she did most of what was asked of her and had experienced definite relief.

With this in mind, I have learned to ask patients a new question when I conduct their initial examination: “Will you do what is asked of you to help yourself correct your problem?” If not, then non-compliance becomes one of the symptoms I try to correct—mostly through patient education.

In closing, let me offer this advice to people seeking alternative therapies. If you are willing to try something different, then be just as willing to take personal responsibility for your own health and wellness to carry it out. When you are instructed to do certain things, please do them. If you don’t take the advice of the wellness practitioner how can you expect your health to improve? If you don’t feel better, and you have not done what is asked of you, don’t blame the practitioner or the modality. You can only hold yourself responsible for letting yourself down. 

Nobody cares about your health and well-being more than you do. You are the one who must live with your health issues every day. Therefore, it is only you who can “fix” them. The acupuncturist, chiropractor, massage therapist, personal trainer and dietitian are simply offering assessment and guidance. It falls on your shoulders to put that knowledge and those programs into practice to make a difference in your life.

Come on, you can do it!

Yours in self-directed wellness,

Dr. Mark Wiley

Dr. Mark Wiley

is an internationally renowned mind-body health practitioner, author, motivational speaker and teacher. He holds doctorates in both Oriental and alternative medicine, has done research in eight countries and has developed a model of health and wellness grounded in a self-directed, self-cure approach. The Wiley Method provides a revolutionary way of providing recovery and prevention of chronic pain, illness and disease. Grab your FREE COPY of Dr. Mark Wiley's "The 3 Secrets to Optimal Health" HERE.

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  • Victor L Barney


  • WW

    Gavernment is NEVER going to “RUN HEALTH CARE”….. Barney you must have that medical condition called STUPID!!! The big insurance companies already ration the health care received by payning for some procedures and not others….. when does the public come to understand that the only health care improvement from the present system is the “financial welfare” of the big insurance companies and big pharma!!

  • Carolyn

    As a survivor of “Soviet-Style Psychiatric Terrorism”, Trauma-based Mind Control, Suicidal Programming. I find it interesting that I should come across an article about non-compliance. When it comes to abuse, corruption, and criminal activity corrupt places and corrupt will use non-compliance and illegally demand complete control and that they have authority when they do not. They use false labels and defrauded records and refuse to stop their conspiracy theory, plotting, scheming, and “Overkill”. They are involved in criminal activty and feel they can exploit the victim/target/witness/”Victim of Violent Crime”. They refuse to allow the victim/target/survivor to get out of the corrupt and deadly system. It has absolutely nothing to do with improving the survivor’s mind, health, or life.

    With the government doing nothing about all the fraud what makes people think things will improve when they have the health care.

    • Tinwarble


      Apparently you must have misunderstood the article, since it had nothing to do with anyone trying to make you do anything. It did have to do with people going to their doctors for help, then not doing what they are suppose to do to get well. In other words, if you go to your doctor with an infection, and he says to take these antibiotics for a certain amount of days, and you don’t and you are still infected, then it is your fault for not getting better.

      And if you really want “Soviet Style” health care, then just wait until the government gets its hands on it. Wait until you are diagnosed with 3rd stage breast cancer, which I would wish on no one, and the government tells you that giving you health care is just too expensive. Why don’t you go ask those women in that position in Britain just how well those suicide pills are working that their government run health care is providing, instead of giving them a drug that might save their life because it’s to expensive.

      • brad

        when doc’s talk about chemo or diet they suggest thing they would never do them self’s and chlost drugs destroy the liver also don’t get me started on plavix(it makes you a bleeder!) so unless a drug has been out for 10 years or a doc tells you it is a operation(somthing he can be held responseable for)don’t trust him!!!

      • 4 Comon Sense

        Right on. We are headed to a GOVERNMENT RUN POLICE STATE.

  • Jewell

    WW, I’m glad to know there are others who understand the core issue of healthcare. This is my kind of doctor. Unfortunately, our nation has been raised by old school medicine. It may take a long, long time to teach the population that they are responsible for their health. And this knowledge could take away the power owned by the medical society. Doctors live by many perks offered by pharmacuetical companies. In turn they push the drugs. And the people take the drugs to eliminate the symptoms. And everyone goes about their day feeding the machine at each level. If we would take responsibility at every level, eventually it would reach the politicians that attempt to run our country… into the ground.

  • Kari

    If people are obeying their natural care consultants and the cost is completely out of pocket, then it would seem that more would follow a traditional doctor’s advice if that cost were out of pocket as well. The main point of this article would take care of itself–and a few other beneficial incidentals as well, such as lowered costs and medical doctors investigating natural therapies. If all costs were out of pocket, medical doctors would have a lot more competition, and they would have to change. Free markets–not fair markets, but free markets stabilize industry. Few people realize exactly what they are already paying for medical care. We are allowing third parties to determine our care, to distribute our money, and we are surrendering freedom and accountability in the process, while simultaneously feeding fear and entitlement ideologies and driving up costs. Whatever an employee pays for company insurance is matched by the company. The practical example with numbers goes like this: When the employee buys insurance through his employeer’s plan at $700/month, the company also pays $700/month to the insurance company. When you pay a $35 copay for an $80 office visit and $100 co-pay for $500 worth of labs, you’re still actually spending $1935 for $580 worth of information and tests. So what about catastrophic medical emergencies? Well if you put your $700/month premium in a savings plan, and your company paid you $700 more a month instead of the insurance company and you saved $1400/month, you pay for your own incidental medical needs and obey your doctor or alt. care provider, by the time you need the mega-medical care, you can pay for it out of your own pocket. And, if you actually do obey–diet, exercise, supplements, etc. the likelihood of medical catastrophes is greatly reduced. People don’t need insurance to get medical care. They need self discipline with money, willingness to ditch that big entitlement chip on their shoulder, and humility to be willing to spend savings on health rather than luxury.

  • Merl Elton

    Society and the media share a great deal of blame. Temptation is everywhere. The typical American diet pushed heavily by corporate advertisers for huge profits and prevalent throughout society in the workplace, at schools, in restaurants, at parties, and at popular events: is very tasty, convenient, attractive, junk food full of sugar, fat, salt, and excitotoxins that over time around at around 35 or 40 years of age leaves people with many chronic diseases: heart disease, storke, cancer, osteoporosis, arthritis, etc. Until U.S. society abandons its love affair with junk foods most of us will get and stay sick.

    • http://donthaveone Beberoni

      I disagree with your assertations concerning sugars and so called junk food. My parents are in their mid-80′s, Im 51, my brothers and sisters older than me, and not one of us has ever been on a diet, or ate non-fat, low carb baloney that is so prevalent today. It is this chemically treated foods with things taken out that shouldnt be taken out and things put in that shouldnt be put in, and its all bad. Give me a bag of Fritos’s, a Hershey’s Candy bar, mashed potatoes and gravy, a good thick steak, a slab of ribs, fried chicken, baked beans, green beans, corn, peas, burritos and all this full caloried stuff, and Ill live well into my 90′s also. This food is healthy. Im 6’1″ tall, I weigh 200 Lbs and maybe have 5 lbs of extra weight on me, if that. The whole secret is you have to burn more than you put in, and it just doesnt work to eat all day and night, and sit on your butt all the time. You will get fat and have health problems. Eating chemically treated food is not the answer. Excercise is. And if you are truly staying active, you can eat anything you want, and its not going to hurt you. Now given, you should eat pork 7 times a week because of the salt content in it, but once a week, go for it. My whole family, and cousins and such, we all eat all we want of what ever we want. None of us is overweight, we are all normal, working tax paying members of society, and we are all healthy. Eat good food, dont eat that diet crap. Allmost everyone I know that diets and eats that stuff, goes to the doctor a lot, because they dont feel good. No, no, no. Give me my meat and potatoes and snacks. Um Um Good.

      • c lee

        I agree with what your saying. I to think we can eat anything we want as long as its done in moderation, I think thats the only difference in today versus yesterday. We just eat to much, its not what we eat but how much we eat.

        • http://donthaveone Beberoni

          You are correct. It like the fat guy that sues McDonalds for getting him fat. Well, if he didnt order 3 big macs, a quarter pounder with cheese, large fries and a diet coke, he probably wouldnt be that way. My wife was hospitalized for 3 and a half weeks for a surgery, and I at at McDonalds every day, usually twice during that time, since I was going from work, to see her, then home to sleep, and didnt have time for a sit down meal, and I actually lost 10 pounds in that time, just eating a double cheesburger and medium fries and a glass of water. So its like you said, its not what you eat, its how much you eat and how much of it you work off.

    • Beverly

      I’ve been reading labels in the grocery store and have discovered that many of our “healthy foods” put out by major companies are FULL of sugars, salts and CHEMICALS!!! My question to all: What are these chemical preservative doing to our minds and bodies that the CDC, FDA and AMA are not telling us??

    • Kenneth

      In Russia many younger generation are dying from heart attacks. Here in Australia AMA President complained doctors were being held in disrespect. I Emailed him but he did not reply. Doctors here are getting millions of dollars in Freebies to peddle the drugs of the drug companies. I am 74 years old. I have had Irregular Heart Beat Episodes since Easter 1995. In 2007 when I had Laser beam treatment for a kidney stone Cardiology doctors gave me Heparin pretending it was Antibiotics. I have been taking Mg foods and black tea(no sugar) to protect my heart from heart attacks. I have had 2 Echocardiograms showing no damage to my heart. Doctors of my own generation can be proud that they kept the Hippocratic Oath DO NO HARM.

    • 4 Comon Sense

      Non-compliant, now that’s an interesting word. Yes i understand that patients need to stay on their med’s and others need to watch what they eat but it is their CHOICE. Do you want to take away that choice and confine them to a camp and force them to do what is right? You seem OK with a woman’s choice to take the life of her unborn child. What is next. The government going to tell us what to drive because we a car that is a gas guzzler or where we are to live or where we can go. I for one am sick and tired of you PROGRESSIVE SOCIALISTS trying to mandate to the American people what to do. To go to your answer. It’s called FREEDOM OF CHOICE. Leave us alone.

  • Merl Elton

    The sad and ugly truth is that most doctors who are on the corporate and political dole; and who want to be cool and not seem odd; get their promotions, collect money; and not make waves will never endorse a low profit, low prestige healthy diet.

  • http://less4u Suma G Nathan

    Well, I have been in the Holistic Health field professionally for 29 yrs. Responsbility belongs with the person involved, as Dr Wiley says, we are the directors, but we have to have the cooperation of the client. You cannot heal your body with just foods, of course, one has to eat the right healthy foods. Big Pharma has the whole country under it’s hooks and so does the AMA.And yes,we still need our Docs, but we need to look a lot further then just medical, because the
    healing is within us with the right Nutriionals, and one has to be commited to ones Health & Healing. Unfortunately,the general public, still does’ent believe that,too brianwashed Big Pharma & Ads on TV.Well folks this really works, However one has to be committed to change,which most do not want to do. Unless changes are being made, you know what that answer is!

    • Jack Lovett

      Perhaps you know the answer to my question. Since toenail fungus is systemic,what internal treatment would be effective? Colloidal silver,Ozone therapy, Oxygen therapy? I tryed the duflacan but stopped due the risks. Iv’e tryed topical, nothing works.

      • Dr. Mark Wiley

        Jack, in Chinese medicine toenail fungus is known as “toxic damp heat.” Since it is localized to such a small area, using a systemic treatment is not advised. This can cause a shift overall, rather than a small shift at location. So, topical treatment is sufficient. I recommend an herbal called Hua Tuo Gao. If you cannot locate online, then Tujin Limiment will work well.

  • Christine

    As a Nutrition Counselor I knew exactly how Dr Wiley must have felt! As a teacher/healer we believe every individual is unique…each and every individual has a special set of talents, and skills…each one of us in some unique way desires to make a difference on planet Earth. My goals are to educate individuals about the many options available to them to make that difference through the practice of natural nutrition. There is an inescapable link between the source, the food, and the healthy consumer. Good Food simply does not nourish the physical body alone: mind and consciousness play a significant role in nourishing our entire being… The future of mankind lies not in cures, but in disease prevention! Sound familiar? Well the option are available and ultimately the choice is yours, but its up to you to do your own homework! Such as: women…were you aware that a thermography can detect cancer cells 8 years before a mammogram?

    Through creating awareness based on these facts, we can help heal ourselves and our toxic planet Earth!

    Need I say more?… just my 2 cents worth… okay, maybe a dime! :)

    • c lee

      Youve earned your dimes worth. Keep up the good work.

  • H20

    This website is not promoting personal liberty imo, but instead is just trying to teach tolerance” of the times and decisions made by our Liberal Congress. Delusions of Safety sacrificed for Liberty are False.

    And @TinWarble, I think you completely misunderstood Carolyn. She was talking about Govt Corruption (approval of bad drugs, forced treatment, and from her former experienced (a govt where forced treatment to destroy political enemies is common under the guise of false mental illness accusations). sad.

    Also — the recent (Health Care Bill) legislation leaves out Alternative Treatments and Practitioners out of the Loop, by forcing everyone to spend their money on a Mainstream HealthCare Only. Pathetic and Unconstitutional IMO.

  • H20

    H20 (footnote): Im assuming thats that Carolyn meant by Psychiatric Terrorism etc etc

  • Wendy H

    I thought the article was going to be about helping non-compliant patients but is just a whining rant about non-compliant patients, with only TWO SENTENCES dedicated to the topic,

    “With this in mind, I have learned to ask patients a new question when I conduct their initial examination: “Will you do what is asked of you to help yourself correct your problem?” If not, then non-compliance becomes one of the symptoms I try to correct—mostly through patient education.”

    What exactly is this education? Is it trying to find out what is keeping them blocked and thus non-compliant? – like self-worth and/or abuse issues, work, time and money management, relationships, etc? I would like to see an article about your patient education process (which I thought this article would be about!).


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