Exploring new ways to administer
children’s medication

Johnson & Johnson Design  |  New York City, USA  |  2014


Project and partner management, content development



Our partners were interested in developing a new platform system for delivering oral medication to children. This offering had the potential to deliver essential medicines at low cost and without the need for a cold chain. Our goal was to understand how parents currently administer oral medicine to their children, and to get their reaction to a new pediatric dosing device and medication format.



We recruited six parent-child dyads for an in-context ethnographic study:


  • Homework: We asked parents to capture their experiences administering medication to their children through video diaries and storytelling prompts. We asked kids to share their dosing experience through drawings.

  • In-home interviews: We spoke to parents about their dosing practices, and asked them to test three different prototypes for dosing a new type of oral medication.


Insights to Action

For parents, dosing was a painful reminder that their child was “sick”.  They opened up about the guilt and anxiety they felt from administering medication and normalizing the dosing experience. At the same time, parents expressed hope that one day their child would feel empowered to take control over their own health.


We identified design attributes for the dosing device that were most important to parents including: safety, reliability, confirmation, and engagement. After observing the challenges parents had using the prototypes, we made recommendations that informed the overall design direction. We also suggested additional features that would enable parents to use the device in everyday scenarios (e.g., at school, on the go, etc.).