Research database

This Research Database has been developed by HCPC Europe to create an overview of the available research in the field of patient-friendly and adherence packaging. The database is for all members of HCPC Europe. Members can register as a user to get access to the database. Is your organisation not a member yet? Then please register your organisation as a member or contact our Executive Director Ger Standhardt for more information.

Poison prevention in the elderly

Poison exposures in the elderly are largely unintentional and, therefore, amenable to prevention techniques. Based on an analysis of the major causes of unintentional exposures in persons age 60 years and older, injury control strategies are applied to poisoning. These strategies address pre-event, event, and post-event phases. Ideas for specific changes to protect the elderly, especially in the areas of labeling and packaging, are presented.

Medication compliance in elderly outpatients using twice-daily dosing and unit-of-use packaging

Objective: To determine the effect of unit-of-use drug packaging of medications on compliance among elderly outpatients treated with complex medication regimens.

Design: Nonblind, randomized, clinical trial.

Setting: Geriatric outreach health centers in urban public housing units for independent-living elderly people.

Patients: Thirty-one patients (aged ≥60 y), each taking three or more prescribed medications. Patients were randomly assigned to one of three study groups: Group 1 (n=12), no change in dosing or packaging; group 2 (n=10), conventional packaging with twice-daily dosing; group 3 (n=9), unit-of-use packaging with twice-daily dosing.

Intervention: A unit-of-use package consisting of a two-ounce plastic cup with a snap-on lid containing all medications to be taken at the time of dosing.

Main outcome measures: Medication compliance was assessed monthly for six months using tablet counts.

Results: Medication compliance was significantly better in group 3 (92.6 percent) using unit-of-use packaging compared with either group 1 (79 percent) or group 2 (82.6 percent) (p=0.017). Compliance did not differ between groups 1 and 2.

Conclusions: In this small study of elderly outpatients taking three or more medications, unit-of-use packaging and twice-daily dosing improved medication compliance compared with conventional packaging.


Initializing concordance in frail elderly patients via a medicines organizer

Background: Concordance, which involves prescribing with rather than for patients, should result in less drug wastage (non-use), but is proving hard to put into practice. One possible way of easing elderly people and prescribers toward concordance is to use a medicines organizer (MO).

Objective: To document medication wastage, using a pharmacy-prepared reusable MO, and explore, using a qualitative approach, use of this information on communication of individuals’ drug regimens.

Methods: Sixty-two sheltered housing residents, aged ⩾60 years, participated in an exploratory controlled, matched study. The intervention group received medication in the MO, and the control group continued with standard packaging. Community pharmacists recorded details of wasted drugs returned during the 3-month study and, for the intervention group, 6, 9, and 12 months after the study. Medicines management data were collected from participants. Qualitative interviews were conducted with a sample of general practitioners (GPs) and community pharmacists to explore views on the role of the MO.

Results: Intervention group wastage was reduced from 18.1% (prestudy) to 1% at 12 months. No data on wastage were collected for the control group after the prestudy assessment. Sixty-one percent more prescription changes, including significant decreases in the number of prescribed drugs and dosages, were reported for the intervention group. GPs and pharmacists reported improvements in communication concerning medication-related dialog.

Conclusions: This small exploratory study has shown that a pharmacy-prepared reusable MO provided visual, objective insights into medication wastage. This resulted in improved communication of drug needs and reduced wastage—the foundation for concordance.


Assessment of older adults’ knowledge of and preferences for medication management tools and support systems

Background: A variety of strategies are available to assist older adults who have difficulties managing medications. Little is known about older adults’ knowledge of or willingness to use these strategies.

Objective: To assess older adults’ current use of, knowledge of, and preferences for medication management tools and supports.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted at a continuing care retirement community. All 152 independent-living residents were approached for participation. We developed a 6-page survey to gather information about knowledge of and preferences for medication management tools (eg, medi-sets, bubble-packs) and supports (eg, family, caregivers, regimen simplification). Information on demographic variables, medication management capacity, cognition, self-reported difficulty taking medications, and medication use were collected along with survey answers during an in-home interview. χ2 and t-tests were used to compare knowledge and preferences by complexity and organizer use.

Results: Our sample consisted of 109 participants ranging in age from 73 to 98 years (average 85.9). Most of the subjects were well educated (average 15.5 y of education), 98% were white, and 80% were female. The majority (82%) were using a medication tool, mainly simple, self-filled medi-sets (62%) and easy-open vials (55%). Knowledge about, use of, and preferences for other devices, including pharmacist-filled tools and programmable devices, were low. Participants who used medication organizers rated self-filled medi-sets higher than did non-users (4.7 vs 1.6; p < 0.01). Only 18% of participants had asked a provider to simplify their medications, while 40% did not realize that they could do so. Of those who did ask a provider, 80% asked a physician.

Conclusions: Educational strategies are needed to increase awareness of the pharmacist’s role in facilitating medication management and the option of simplifying complex regimens. It is within the scope of pharmacy to provide this type of medication education.

A self-administration of medications program to identify and address potential barriers to adherence in elderly patients

Objective: To evaluate the usefulness of a SAMP for detecting and addressing barriers to adherence in functionally impaired elderly hospital inpatients, and to identify predictors of patient performance in a SAMP.

Methods: A prospective cohort study was conducted on 2 subacute aged-care wards. Patients who were intending to independently manage their medications after discharge were recruited. Medications were dispensed and labeled with full directions, and the patients were educated about their medications. Each patient was required to request the medications from nursing staff when due, then select and administer them under supervision. Patient performance was documented. Barriers to adherence and interventions used to address these barriers were recorded. Analyses were performed to identify factors associated with failing the SAMP.

Results: Of 62 patients who were recruited, 43 (69.4%) passed the program without requiring interventions to address adherence barriers, 7 (11.3%) passed with an intervention implemented to enable them to remain independent with medication management after discharge, and 12 (19.4%) failed and required full assistance with medication management after discharge. Overall, barriers to medication adherence (eg, inability to open containers, inability to request medications without prompting) were identified for 30.6% of patients. Mini-Mental State Examination scores and patient age were independent predictors of whether a patient would fail the SAMP.

Conclusions: An inpatient SAMP effectively detected barriers to medication adherence that otherwise may not have been detected and addressed prior to a patient’s discharge from the hospital.