User Research

For the first phase of our project, our team conducted user research to ensure that all design decisions would be grounded in facts rather than assumptions. Throughout the course of our research, we created three notable artifacts: an annotated bibliography, notes from interviews and a collection of user personas.

Annotated Bibliography

Entering a broad and complex design space, our team began our research with a short literature review to identify stakeholders and problem areas in the realm of medication management. Carefully weighing time constraints, we collected and read a total of 11 relevant articles. Topics ranged from the needs of dementia patients to the design of effective notifications systems.

“Medication management in dementia is a broad concept that should encompass a complete review of medication, including assessment of indication, dosage, interactions and continued need.”

-Maidment et al

“The literature suggests that older adults often rely on contextual clues (e.g., taking medications with a meal) and automatic or ritualized behavior to remember to administer their medications.”

-Cotrell, Wild & Bader

In turn, we worked to synthesize important information through an annotated bibliography. This document was used as a common frame of reference for our group’s understanding of the design space. It also serves as list of quotes and references that can be used for support in a final presentation or process book.

Interview Notes

After conducting a literature review, our team identified three primary stakeholders: patients, caregivers and medical professionals. In order to learn more about user needs and perspectives, we reached out to potential participants through email, phone. We were able to schedule in person interviews with a total of five target users. Interviews were conducted in the field over the course of one week.

Participants were as follows:

  1. Medical professional. A doctor involved with Alzheimer’s and Traumatic Brain Injury research at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  2. Dementia patient and her caregiver. An elderly husband and wife team that have been managing dementia for over three years.
  3. Traumatic Brain Injury patient and his caregiver. A middle aged male whose mother served as a primary caregiver following his accident.

In addition to these formal interviews, our team also visited Aegis, a local assisted living facility with a wing for Alzheimer’s care. During the tour, our team informally interacted with patients, nurses and medication administrators.

Overall, our research allowed us to build understanding and empathy for users needs. We were able to see what methods people were using to manage medication, hear about pain points in their experience and engage participants in the design process. Many users were also eager to describe features that they would like to see in an improved medication management system.

“It’s a big deal when one of my visual cues gets moved.”

“You get used to it [opening a pill box compartment] , you know it’s going to be tough.”

“Any crutch we have, we would lean on immediately.”

Images of medication management systems presented during interviews


After talking to users and seeing their medication related frustrations first hand, we created three personas to document the wants and needs of our target users. These personas will be internalized and used to guide design during the idealization phase of our project. All information presented in the personas is drawn from our interviews and literature review.

Restorative Patient

Caregiver Persona