Background: multi-compartment medication devices (MMDs) are widely used, primarily by older people, to aid correct-medication taking. Several MMD types are available yet little is known about the ease with which patients with varying functional ability use these devices and whether some types are easier than others. Such knowledge would assist healthcare practitioners in advising patients on a suitable choice of device.
Objective: this study investigates the ease with which patients with differing functional ability use three types of MMD.
Method: participants were recruited from an older person’s medical ward. Demographic and medication information, cognitive function, visual acuity and manual dexterity were recorded. The Venalink®, Nomad Clear® and Dosett®MMDs were tested. Participants rated each MMD according to text readability, ease of opening, ease of medication removal, transportability and overall rating. These ratings were compared between MMDs for all patients and for subgroups with differing functional abilities.
Results: the MMDs were trialled by 50 patients; the majority rated text readability well but rated MMDs poorly according to the other criteria. Cognitively impaired participants may encounter difficulties in opening and removing medication from Venalink® and Nomad®. The Dosett® consistently rated better across all criteria. Transportability was the most influential criterion for overall MMD usability.
Conclusion: the poor patient rating of MMDs which are widely used in practice is of concern. Some MMDs may be difficult to open and access, especially for patients with cognitive impairment. This offers some guidance to health professionals in advising patients on MMD choice however, overall MMD rating appears dominated by transportability.