Boomers Aren't Reading Drug Labels
Those colorful little stickers on your prescription pill bottles are there for a reason. They contain important warnings about such possibilities as adverse drug interactions, side effects that could impair your ability to drive, and the dangers of overdosing. However a recent study by Raghave Prashant Sundar of Michigan Sate University and colleagues showed that older adults are much less likely that younger people are to pay attention to what's on the stickers and remember the information.
The study was published in the prestigious online journal PLoS ONE. "We investigated the effectiveness of prescription warning labels (PWLs) . . . in conveying warning information to two groups of patients (young adults and those 50+)," the authors wrote. "We evaluated the early stages of information processing by tracking eye movements while participants interacted with prescription vials that had PWLs affixed to them. We later tested participants’ recognition memory for the PWLs. During viewing, participants often failed to attend to the PWLs; this effect was more pronounced for older than younger participants. Older participants also performed worse on the subsequent memory test."
The researchers concluded that their work is important "because older adults are recognized to be at greater risk for ADEs [adverse drug events]. These data provide a compelling case that understanding consumers’ attentive behavior is crucial to developing an effective labeling standard for prescription drugs."
So the next time you pick up your prescriptions, take the time to study the label and commit the warnings to memory. If fact, why not read the warnings again every time you take your meds? You just might save yourself from serious consequences.