More elderly patients affected by severe and chronic diseases are treated in primary care. Reports on the use of prescription drugs by the general elderly population are scarce, and more investigations are needed to optimize pharmaceutical care for these patients.
To analyze prescription drug use, diagnoses, and healthcare utilization among noninstitutionalized elderly patients.
Retrospective cohort study.
SETTING AND PATIENTS
All people > or =65 years old (n = 4642) living in the community of Tierp, Sweden, in 1994 were included. Prescription drug use and healthcare utilization have been registered for all inhabitants of the community since 1972. Information about filled prescriptions and diagnoses were obtained from a computerized research register.
Prescription drug use was high among the elderly (78%); the most used pharmacologic groups were cardiovascular, nervous system, and gastrointestinal medications. Women used more prescription drugs than men (average 4.8 vs. 3.8) and had more nonfatal diagnoses. Use of five or more different prescription drugs during 1994 was common (39.0%), and multivariate analysis showed that the greatest number of primary care visits occurred with multiple drug use (> or =5 drugs over 1 y). CONCLUSIONs: This study shows an extensive multiple drug use among elderly people living at home. Whether this multiple drug use per se is harmful to the patients or not could not be evaluated in this study. Further focused investigations are needed to assess the effect of multiple drug use in an elderly population.
2001. Vol. 35, no 9, 1004-1009 p.