External Support for Collaborative Problem Solving in a Simulated Provider/Patient Medication Scheduling Task

Daniel Morrow, Liza Raquel, Angela Schriver, Seth Redenbo, David Rozovski, Gillian Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Taking medication requires developing plans to accomplish the activity. This planning challenges older adults because of age-related cognitive limits and inadequate collaboration with health providers. The authors investigated whether an external aid (medtable) supports collaborative planning in the context of a simulated patient/provider task in which pairs of older adults worked together to create medication schedules. Experiment 1 compared pairs who used the medtable, blank paper (unstructured aid), or no aid to create schedules varying in complexity of medication constraints (number of medications and medication co-occurrence restrictions) and patient constraints (available times during the day to take medication). Both aids increased problem-solving accuracy and efficiency (time per unit accuracy) compared to the no-aid condition, primarily for more complex schedules. However, benefits were similar for the two aids. In Experiment 2, a redesigned medtable increased problem-solving accuracy and efficiency compared to blank paper. Both aids presumably supported problem solving by providing a jointly visible workspace for developing schedules. The medtable may be more effective because it externalizes constraints (relationships between medication and patient information), so that participants can more easily organize information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)288-297
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • distributed cognition
  • external aids
  • health communication
  • medication adherence
  • problem solving

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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