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There is a great variability in licit prescription drug use in the population and among patients. Factors other than purely medical ones have proven to be of importance for the prescribing of licit drugs. For example, individuals with a high age, female gender and low socioeconomic status are more likely to use licit prescription drugs. However, these results have not been adjusted for multi-morbidity level. In this study we investigate the odds of using licit prescription drugs among individuals in the population and the rate of licit prescription drug use among patients depending on gender, age and socioeconomic status after adjustment for multi-morbidity level.
The study was carried out on the total population aged 20years or older in Östergötland county with about 400 000 inhabitants in year 2006. The Johns Hopkins ACG Case-mix was used as a proxy for the individual level of multi-morbidity in the population to which we have related the odds ratio for individuals and incidence rate ratio (IRR) for patients of using licit prescription drugs, defined daily doses (DDDs) and total costs of licit prescription drugs after adjusting for age, gender and socioeconomic factors (educational and income level).
After adjustment for multi-morbidity level male individuals had less than half the odds of using licit prescription drugs (OR 0.41 (95% CI 0.40-0.42)) compared to female individuals. Among the patients, males had higher total costs (IRR 1.14 (95% CI 1.13-1.15)). Individuals above 80years had nine times the odds of using licit prescription drugs (OR 9.09 (95% CI 8.33-10.00)) despite adjustment for multi-morbidity. Patients in the highest education and income level had the lowest DDDs (IRR 0.78 (95% CI 0.76-0.80), IRR 0.73 (95% CI 0.71-0.74)) after adjustment for multi-morbidity level.
This paper shows that there is a great variability in licit prescription drug use associated with gender, age and socioeconomic status, which is not dependent on level of multi-morbidity.