The researchers aren’t sure why the survey respondents were so averse to the idea of taking a pill each day, but they have some educated guesses. Beyond the simple hassle of remembering a daily chore, “We think that part of the opposition is the stigma of ‘being sick’ or needing to be treated,” Robert Hutchins, a physician at UCSF and the study’s lead author, said in an email.
“We think that part of the opposition is the stigma of being sick or needing to be treated.”
Because the study asked about specifically about a pill as prevention rather than treatment, there’s also the possibility that people simply didn’t see much benefit to taking it, or much risk to skipping it. “The problem with many of the pills that people take for their whole life is that they don’t necessarily make them feel better—they are medications like aspirin and statins that prevent an adverse outcome,” Hutchins said. “If that outcome is prevented, the person doesn’t know how bad the alternative to taking the pill actually is. If someone is taking a pill for back pain, they should get relief from that pill and don’t mind taking it, because the alternative, pain, is worse.”