Effects of aging, message repetition, and note-taking on memory for health information

Daniel G. Morrow, Von O. Leirer, Lisa M. Carver, Elizabeth Decker Tanke, Alison D. McNally

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigated whether repetition improves older adults' memory for health service appointment messages delivered by automated telephone systems. Whereas imposed repetition reduces age differences in memory (Morrow, Leirer, Carver, Tanke, and McNally, 1999), the present study examined the effect of optional repetition. Both older and younger participants in Experiment 1 chose to repeat messages. More repetition, higher cognitive ability (working memory and processing speed), and younger age were associated with better memory for appointment information. The effect of age was eliminated when cognitive ability, but not repetition, was controlled. Thus, older adults used optional repetition in automated systems, but this strategy did not eliminate age differences in memory. In Experiment 2, older as well as younger adults took accurate notes and also repeated messages. Both note-taking and message repetition improved memory for the messages but did not reduce age differences. These findings suggest that older as well as younger adults use presentation strategies in automated messaging systems. Older adults may not take full advantage of these strategies, perhaps because of age-related declines in self-initiated or metacognitive processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)P369-P379
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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