Can older people remember medication reminders presented using synthetic speech?

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Reminders are often part of interventions to help older people adhere to complicated medication regimes. Computer-generated (synthetic) speech is ideal for tailoring reminders to different medication regimes. Since synthetic speech may be less intelligible than human speech, in particular under difficult listening conditions, we assessed how well older people can recall synthetic speech reminders for medications. 44 participants aged 50–80 with no cognitive impairment recalled reminders for one or four medications after a short distraction. We varied background noise, speech quality, and message design. Reminders were presented using a human voice and two synthetic voices. Data were analyzed using generalized linear mixed models. Reminder recall was satisfactory if reminders were restricted to one familiar medication, regardless of the voice used. Repeating medication names supported recall of lists of medications. We conclude that spoken reminders should build on familiar information and be integrated with other adherence support measures.

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