Shape and placement of faucet handles for the elderly

Beverly A. Meindl, Andris Freivalds

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The 'modern' bathroom is an area which poses considerable barriers to the elderly, specifically a mismatch between the shape and the placement of faucet handles and their physiological capabilities. Fifteen residents of a retirement facility, with a mean age of 79.9 years, exerted their maximum turning torques in a randomized fully-crossed design incorporating the following factors: two positions (low-21 inches and high-42 inches), two angles (45° and 90°) and three types of handles (acrylic, star, and lever). Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) of the data indicated that the type of handle and the position, along with the covariates: age, gender and subject height, were significant at p<.05. Angle and the covariates: weight and arthritis were not significant, most likely because weight is correlated with height and arthritis with age. The second order interactions of handle-angle and position-angle were also significant at p<.05. The lever handle was clearly superior with average torques produced being 50% greater than those from the acrylic and star handles. Torque levels on the acrylic handle and the star handle were very similar, with the acrylic handle slightly superior in the 45°-angled position and the star handle being slightly better in the 90°-angled position. Overall, the 45°-low position resulted in the lowest torques, while the 45° high position resulted in the highest torques. Age had a profound effect, with torque values decreasing an average of 10% over the 15 year age span of the subjects. Based on the study, it is recommended that plumbing systems with both high (42 inches) and low (23 inches) faucets with lever handles be installed where ever possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)811-815
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Human Factors Society
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992
EventProceedings of the Human Factors Society 36th Annual Meeting. Part 2 (f 2) - Atlanta, GA, USA
Duration: Oct 12 1992Oct 16 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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