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An Ageing Issue

Medical packaging must comply with an increasingly complex set of requirements imposed by both regulation and the demands of product managers. Often, ease of use requirements are either ignored or seen as being at odds with other, more critical requirements, such as the requirements for child resistant packaging. An ageing population has caused renewed interest in designing medical packaging that is more ‘elderlyfriendly’ and generally easier to use. Human performance research has contributed greatly to knowledge bases and has led to a better understanding of how to meet the medical packaging needs of older adults, but many gaps remain. A user-centred approach during the design and optimisation of packaging solutions can lead to an engineered result that meets packaging requirements and the needs of consumers (1).

Medical packaging that is too difficult to open is a common source of consumer dissatisfaction (2). The demand for ease of use in medical packaging is expected to increase as the population ages. Agerelated functional decline in strength, dexterity, and visual ability directly impacts packaging ease of use (3-5). With an ageing population comes an increase in the prevalence of arthritis, which is the number one cause of disability in the US (6). The need for easy to use packaging for medical products designed to treat arthritis is clear. Consumers seeking relief from the symptoms of arthritis should not have to suffer while accessing their medication. Additionally, arthritis is a common comorbidity with other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, suggesting a compelling reason for addressing ease of use issues in all medical packaging (7).

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Intuitive Design Applied Research Institute founder Dr Brad Fain has spent more than two decades researching human factors engineering and packaging design. From ease of access evaluation and universal design studies to ethnographic research and consumer product design, he has pioneered the objective, human performance-based ease of use testing of consumer products and packaging solutions. Brad obtained a PhD in engineering psychology at the Georgia Institute of Technology, US, in 2002, where he maintains a Principal Research Scientist faculty appointment. He manages the consumer product test lab for the Arthritis Foundation, the Arthritis Society of Canada, and Arthritis Australia. Brad is the inventor and sole distributor of the Arthritis Simulation Gloves.
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Dr Brad Fain
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