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An Interactive Technology Approach to Educate Older Adults About Drug Interactions Arising from Over-the-Counter Self-Medication Practices


  • Patricia J. Neafsey R.D., Ph.D., ,

  • Zoe Strickler M.Des., ,

  • Juliette Shellman R.N., C. M.S., and,

  • Virginia Chartier B.S.N., R.N.

Patricia J. Neafsey is Professor, Zoe Strickler is a Visual Communications Designer, Juliette Shellman is a Visiting Assistant Professor, and Virginia Chartier is a Masters Student, School of Nursing, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut.  
  Address correspondence to Patricia J. Neafsey, School of Nursing Unit-2026, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269. E-mail:


An interactive computer program (Personal Education Program [PEP]) designed for the learning styles and psychomotor skills of older adults was used to teach older adults about potential drug interactions that can result from self-medication with over-the-counter (OTC) agents and alcohol. Subjects used the PEP on notebook computers equipped with infrared sensitive touchscreens. Subjects were recruited from senior centers. Those who met age, vision, literacy, independence, and medication use criteria were randomly assigned to one of three groups: (1) PEP plus information booklet; (2) information booklet only; or (3) control. A repeated measures (three time periods 2 weeks apart), three-group design was used. Users of PEP had significantly greater knowledge and self-efficacy scores than both the conventional and control groups at all three time points. The PEP group reported fewer adverse self-medication behaviors over time. Reported self-medication behaviors did not change over time for either the conventional or control groups. Subjects indicated a high degree of satisfaction with the PEP and reported their intent to make specific changes in self-medication behaviors.