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.


Can elderly people take their medicine?

This study used performance tests to assess the cognitive, visual and physical abilities related to taking medicines in the elderly population.

The study population consisted of the Swedish Panel Study of Living Conditions of the Oldest Old (SWEOLD II), a nationally representative interview survey. SWEOLD II is a random sample of all community-based and institutionalized persons aged 77+ in Sweden. Five tests related to medication management were administered in the direct interviews (n = 492): hand function (opening bottle), vision (reading label), and medication competence (comprehension and calculation).

Results showed that 9.4% could not read instructions on a medicine container and 14.6% had difficulty opening a plastic flip-top medicine bottle. The three cognitive tests related to taking medicine resulted in 30.7, 47.4 and 20.1% errors. Combining all the tests revealed that 66.3% of the sample had at least one limitation of capacity related to taking medicine. There were no significant gender differences. Among those people who did not pass all the tests, 31.8% lived alone with no home-help.

Taking medicines is a complex task and a large proportion of the Swedish elderly population has cognitive, visual or physical limitations that may hinder their ability to take medicines accurately. Awareness of these limitations is essential to concordance.


The difficulty of opening medicine containers in old age: A population-based study

Objectives: To investigate elderly people’s ability to open medicine containers, and how this ability correlates to some common disorders that may cause functional or cognitive impairment.

Methods: Cross-sectional study of older people age 81 years and older, from the second follow-up (1994–1996) of the Kungsholmen project, a population based study of very old people in an urban area of Stockholm, Sweden. Six hundred and four persons (mean age 86.7 years) were tested for their ability to open three types of medicine containers. The disorders studied were rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, cognitive impairment (measured by mini-mental state examination, MMSE) and impaired vision.

Results: We found that 14% were unable to open a screw cap bottle, 32% a bottle with a snap lid, and 10% a blister pack. Female gender, higher age, living in an institution, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, cognitive impairment and impaired vision were all associated with a decreased ability to open the containers. Less than half of the elderly people who were unable to open one or more of the containers received help with their medication. Among those living in their own homes only 27% received help.

Conclusion: Older peoples’ ability to open medicine containers is impaired by several conditions affecting physical and cognitive functioning. Many elderly people who are unable to open medicine containers do not receive help with their medication, particularly those living in their own homes.