How do the attitudes and beliefs of older people and healthcare professionals impact on the use of multi-compartment compliance aids? a qualitative study using grounded theory

Jacky Nunney, David K. Raynor, Peter Knapp, S. Jose Closs

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Low adherence of older people to multiple medicine regimens is of widespread concern, and multi-compartment compliance aids are frequently supplied to older people in an attempt to improve their ability to take all their medicines at home. However, the evidence base for the use of such aids is very limited, and there is some evidence that they are used inappropriately.

OBJECTIVE: We aimed to determine how the attitudes and beliefs of older people and healthcare professionals impacted on the use of multi-compartment compliance aids by older people living at home.

METHOD: This was a qualitative study using grounded theory. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 older people (mean age 82 [range 72-92] years) living independently in the community and receiving primary healthcare from two health service organizations in a large northern UK city. We then interviewed 17 healthcare professionals working in primary, secondary or intermediate care and involved in the provision of multi-compartment compliance aids.

RESULTS: Maintaining independence and remaining in control was important for all the older people interviewed, and professionals supported the view that this influenced patients' attitudes towards using their aid. Some patients saw the aids as helping to maintain independence, others as casting doubt on their independence. The aids were often issued without discussion with the patient. The patients largely agreed that the aids did not help with memory problems and that the decision to issue an aid could be seen as paternalistic. A minority of patients had difficulties using the aids.

CONCLUSIONS: Careful multi-disciplinary assessment of older people is required before a compliance aid is provided. The views of the older person must be considered and respected. Further research is required to produce an evidence base for the use of such aids in this group of people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-414
Number of pages12
JournalDrugs & aging
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2011


  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude
  • Culture
  • Female
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance/statistics & numerical data
  • Qualitative Research

Cite this