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Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2004 Feb 15;61(4):373-80.

Variation in medication understanding among the elderly.

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Department of Psychology, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.



Types of medication misunderstanding among community-dwelling elderly people were studied.


Community-dwelling people who were at least 65 years of age and who volunteered to participate in a medication-review program were recruited for the study. A structured interview including a background interview, attitudinal questions, and questions related to dosage, frequency, timing, and what to do if a dose was missed was conducted.


A total of 375 people were included in the study. Of these, 232 (62%) showed perfect understanding of their medication regimens. Twenty-eight (7.5%) of the subjects with less than perfect understanding misunderstood a limited aspect of their regimens across multiple medications, most frequently what to do if a dose was missed. These subjects had the least complex regimens, could name their medications and describe their purpose, and rated themselves as having few medical problems. Their lack of knowledge was not attributed to cognitive problems. Twenty-seven subjects (7%) did not know multiple aspects of at least one medication and appeared to be at high risk for nonadherence. These individuals had the most complex regimens, had difficulty naming and explaining the purpose of their medications, and rated themselves as less adherent. Eighty-eight subjects (23.5%) demonstrated mixed problems with understanding; they did not show a defined pattern attributable to cognitive or noncognitive factors.


A majority of people over the age of 65 years had good understanding of the drugs they were taking.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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