, Volume 56, Issue 4, pp 311-317

The relationship between age, gender, well-being and symptoms, and the use of pharmaceuticals, herbal medicines and self-care products in a Swedish municipality

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Abstract

Background: A relatively small proportion of the population accounts for a substantial part of the public drug cost. Therefore, identifying the characteristics of high users of drugs is an important step towards limiting the cost of drugs. The aim of this study was to assess the relationship between age, gender, well-being and symptoms, and the use of pharmaceutical specialities, herbal medicines and self-care products.

Methods: A postal questionnaire was sent to a representative population sample (n=1.312) from a small Swedish municipality. The relationship between age, gender, well-being and symptoms, and the use of drugs and self-care products was tested using multivariate analysis.

Results: The questionnaire was answered by 827 subjects. The use of prescribed pharmaceuticals increased with age in both genders. Women used prescribed and non-prescribed pharmaceuticals as well as herbal medicines and self-care products more than men. Subjects who reported low scores for well-being had significantly higher odds of having used prescribed pharmaceuticals than subjects with high scores. Bad perceived health was the only well-being measure that was associated with high odds for the use of herbal medicines. Most symptoms occurred more frequently in users than in non-users of pharmaceuticals. Subjects with many symptoms (six or more) had higher odds of having used pharmaceuticals and self-care products than those with few symptoms.

Conclusion: High age, female gender and low perceived well-being significantly increased the use of drugs, particularly prescribed pharmaceuticals. Subjects with many symptoms used pharmaceuticals and self-care products more than those with few symptoms.

Received: 17 February 2000 / Accepted in revised form: 7 April 2000