Background: Calendar-packaging devices such as pillboxes (dosettes) and blister packaging are often recommended to seniors, and are commonly used. However, little is known about how they are used. The goal of this project was to investigate how older adults in the community use calendar-packaging adherence devices.
Methods: A mail survey of a community sample was used. Analyses addressed 3 research questions. First, the respondents reported on what type of calendar packaging they used. Second, the characteristics of the individuals who used pillboxes and blister packs were compared. Third, the way in which calendar devices were used by these individuals was described.
Results: Respondents were 135 community-dwelling older adults (mean age ± standard deviation = 73 ± 9 years). The majority of respondents in the survey (75%) used a pillbox at least some of the time, while a smaller number (13%) used blister packs for at least some of their medications. Respondents who used pillboxes were taking more medications than those who did not. Few of the respondents reported using pillboxes in the recommended way. Only 11% of pillbox users used boxes with multiple slots for each day and, while the majority of respondents (93%) filled their pillboxes themselves, most of these individuals (82%) depended solely on their memory for filling the pillbox and only one individual had a second person check the pillbox for errors.
Conclusion: Although pillboxes are often recommended and are widely used, the types of pillboxes chosen and the ways in which they are used may not be optimal to ensure medication adherence.