Medical Non-Compliance: A Structural Issue 

Sierra Erdman-Luntz



Hello! My name is Sierra Erdman-Luntz. I am currently a Junior, majoring in sociology and double minoring in history and French. I am also pre-law and intend to become a civil rights attorney. I am passionate about helping my community and advocating for people’s rights.


I wrote this essay for my Medical Sociology class where I read Mama Might Be Better Off Dead by

Laurie Kaye Abraham and The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman.Both

case studies reveal structural barriers, in particular poverty and cultural barriers, that limited the

respective patients’ ability to be medically compliant. I argue, thus, that society’s current

conception of medical noncompliance as solely the patient’s fault is incomplete because it ignores

the doctors’ and medical institutions’ role.I argue that medical compliance is, thus, a breakdown in

the medical institution-doctor-patient relationship, and that the medical system must adapt to

these barriers that their patients face before they can reasonably expect compliance.

The prompt for the essay focused on compliance and what it can look like.

I chose to focus on the doctor’s and medical institution’s side of medical

noncompliance because the influence of both were prevalent in the two books

I read and because of my own experiences within medical institutions.

I intend to become a civil rights lawyer and hope to advocate for people’s

right for accessible healthcare in that role.