Characteristics of Adults Managing Vitamins/Supplements and Prescribed Medications-Who Is Using, Not Using, and Abandoning Use of Pillboxes? A Descriptive Study

Rebecca J.Bartlett Ellis, Aaron Ganci, Katharine J. Head, Susan Ofner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: Evidence suggests pillboxes are effective for improving medication adherence. However, prior descriptive studies about pillbox use are limited to studies of older adults or condition-specific studies. This study describes characteristics of adults with chronic conditions and their use of pillboxes. Methods: A survey questionnaire link was posted on a social media recruitment page from August 2016 to April 2017. Results: The sample of 179 people was middle-age (47.7 ± 15.4 years), predominantly white (90.4%), educated (>93% educated beyond high school), female (n = 148; men n = 26), married/partner (58.2%), and working full time (55.9%). Pillboxes were used by 66% (n = 118) of the sample at some point; 22.9% reported pillbox abandonment. Compared with people who never used a pillbox, current pillbox users were older (53.2 ± 14.3 vs 42.0 ± 14.4 years; P <.001) and took more vitamins/supplements (3.9 ± 3.8 vs 2 ± 1.8, P =.002) and prescribed medications (4.2 ± 2.2 vs 2.6 ± 1.9, P <.001). Adherence did not differ between groups; pillbox users were more likely to refill medications before running out compared with those abandoning use, P <.001. Conclusion: Age and number of medications may affect pillbox use. Future research should explore barriers to continued use of pillboxes and uptake in younger populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-239
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Nurse Specialist
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018



  • adult
  • behavioral medicine
  • disease management
  • middle-aged
  • population characteristics
  • social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Assessment and Diagnosis
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing
  • LPN and LVN

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