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.


The use of a universal design methodology for developing child-resistant drug packaging

People with disabilities and older adults are significant consumers of prescription drugs. However, most testing protocols for child resistant (CR) packaging do not take these individuals into account. One example is the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission’s (CPSC’s) protocol that excludes people with any obvious disability from the “senior-friendly” test. Instead of forcing manufacturers to develop CR packages that people with difficulties can use, the government permits pharmacies to dispense drugs in non-CR packages upon request, and allows the manufacturers of over-the-counter medications to package one size in non-CR packages. This assumes that people with disabilities do not live with children, and thus limits their choices. For this research, a user-centered methodology that follows the universal design principles, guidelines, and methods was crafted. Universal design is an approach that addresses the needs of the widest possible audience; by applying its principles to CR packaging, users with a wider range of abilities can be accommodated. Three working groups were at the core of this process: people with disabilities, older adults, and children. Four distinct areas (hand strength, hand-finger dexterity, hand anthropometrics, and cognitive abilities) have been identified that can be employed to defeat children while allowing adults easy entry to packages. This information has the potential to guide designers not only in design choices, but also in dimensional and force related decisions regarding CR package design.


Usability of tabs in semi-rigid packaging

The ability to easily peel the lid of a container is a critical issue for semi-rigid packages used to protect and deliver a myriad of products including medical devices, foods, and beverages. An in-depth search of the scientific literature revealed very little information and several gaps about the fundamentals of peelable semi-rigid packaging opening. Therefore this research had the following objectives: (i) to perform a thorough literature review on packaging usability with special focus on semi-rigid packaging, (ii) to describe the relationship between peel angle and peel force, (iii) to evaluate peel direction during real package opening, and (iv) to evaluate the relationship between tab size and grip choice. A wide range of research methods were used to achieve these objectives including kinetics (the study of forces), kinematics (the study of motions), anthropometrics, computer simulations, package testing, and observational techniques.First, a theoretical framework for human-package interactions (H-PIM) was created and used to assess the gaps in the research literature relating to packaging usability studies. Second, an affordance-based design method was created and illustrated with a packaging example with tabs. Third, experimental peel force measurements for two seal geometries were collected varying peel angle every 15° intervals. Experimental data (force vs. angle) for both conditions followed a U-shaped pattern with minimum values at peel angle 45°. Classical mechanics was then used to derive an equation in which peel force is a function of peel angle. Two approaches were taken to fit the data to this equation: linearization and nonlinear regression. Fourth, a method was developed to calculate seal strength for a given semi-rigid packaging system and a mathematical algorithm was designed to calculate peel forces. Results show that the proposed mathematical model for peeling semi-rigid packaging can predict experimental values very well.Fifth, a motion capture system was used to measure peel angles (α) and peel direction angles (β) during an opening task under two experimental setups (i.e., unrestrained and restrained). Mean peel angle measurements fell within the theoretical optimal peel angle range (α=45°±15°). The initial peel direction angle measured during the unrestrained opening condition (βi=48°) approximated the theoretical angle of β=45° confirming that most participants pulled the tab in this direction during the initial stages of the opening task. Finally, an observational study revealed grip preferences based on tab size. For initial grip of larger tabs, participants tended to use lateral pinch more than pulp pinch or chuck pinch. During pulling, lateral grip was preferred by participants regardless of tab size. Participants’ postural preferences were found to be correlated with ways of opening a specific tray design. This research provides theoretical frameworks, mathematical models, methodologies, and findings that help the design and development of more usable peelable semi-rigid packaging. Many of the conclusions and design guidelines also apply to flexible packaging.