Voice Assistant Reminders and the Latency of Scheduled Medication Use in Older Adults with Pain: Descriptive Feasibility Study

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Background: Pain is difficult to manage in older adults. It has been recommended that pain management in older adults should include both nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic strategies. Unfortunately, nonadherence to pain medication is more prevalent than nonadherence to any other chronic disease treatment. Technology-based reminders have some benefit for medication adherence, but adherence behavior outcomes have mostly been verified by self-reports. Objective: We aimed to describe objective medication adherence and the latency of medication use after a voice assistant reminder prompted participants to take pain medications for chronic pain. Methods: A total of 15 older adults created a voice assistant reminder for taking scheduled pain medications. A subsample of 5 participants were randomly selected to participate in a feasibility study, in which a medication event monitoring system for pain medications was used to validate medication adherence as a health outcome. Data on the subsample s self-Assessed pain intensity, pain interference, concerns and necessity beliefs about pain medications, self-confidence in managing pain, and medication implementation adherence were analyzed. Results: In the 5 participants who used the medication event monitoring system, the overall latency between voice assistant reminder deployment and the medication event (ie, medication bottle cap opening) was 55 minutes. The absolute latency (before or after the reminder) varied among the participants. The shortest average time taken to open the cap after the reminder was 17 minutes, and the longest was 4.5 hours. Of the 168 voice assistant reminders for scheduled pain medications, 25 (14.6%) resulted in the opening of MEMS caps within 5 minutes of the reminder, and 107 (63.7%) resulted in the opening of MEMS caps within 30 minutes of the reminder. Conclusions: Voice assistant reminders may help cue patients to take scheduled medications, but the timing of medication use may vary. The timing of medication use may influence treatment effectiveness. Tracking the absolute latency time of medication use may be a helpful method for assessing medication adherence. Medication event monitoring may provide additional insight into medication implementation adherence during the implementation of mobile health interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere26361
JournalJMIR Formative Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • adherence
  • mHealth
  • older adults
  • pain medications
  • reminders
  • voice assistants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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