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J Gerontol. 1991 Nov;46(6):P378-85.

Elders' schema for taking medication: implications for instruction design.

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  • 1Decision Systems, Stanford, California.


We examined whether elders share a schema for taking medication and if instructions are better understood and recalled when organized to match this pre-existing schema. Experiment 1 investigated if elders agree on how to group medication information into categories, and if they agree on an order for arranging this information. Elders tended to organize information into three categories, arranged in the following order: General information about the medication (purpose), How to take (dose and schedule), and Outcomes (emergency information). In Experiment 2, we compared instructions that were: (a) compatible with this schema in terms of grouping and order, (b) compatible only in terms of grouping (category order was changed), and (c) incompatible, not matching the model in terms of either grouping or order. Memory for medication information increased with the compatibility of the instructions to the model. Elders also preferred the more compatible instructions. The findings suggest that elders possess a schema for taking medication, which they use to understand and recall medication instructions.

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