European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology

, Volume 53, Issue 3, pp 179-183

First online:

Relationship between drug use and self-reported health in elderly Danes

  • J.-U. RosholmAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical Pharmacology, Odense University, Winsløwparken 19, DK-5000 Odense C, Denmark Fax +45 66 13 34 79
  • , K. ChristensenAffiliated withCentre for Health and Social Policy, CHS, Odense University, Denmark

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Objective: To evaluate the relationship between drug use and self-rated health in the elderly.

Materials: An interview survey among all individuals aged 75 years or over in the Danish Twin Register took place. The survey comprised of 2171 persons who responded to questions on self-rated health and drug use.

Results: The mean number of all drugs used increased from 1.3 in persons with “very good” health to 4.6 in persons with “very poor” self-rated health. For prescription drugs, the corresponding figures were 0.5 vs 1.8, respectively.   Among persons using no drugs, 45.8% reported “very good” health, compared with only 6.4% of the persons using five or more drugs. Only 4% of persons using no drugs reported “poor” or “very poor” health. Further, the probability of having a poorer self-rated health increased with the number of drugs used, even though the tendencies were less clear for users of three or more drugs, particularly in the oldest persons.   Users of opioids clearly had a poorer self-rated health compared with users of other drug groups.

Conclusion: This study shows a relationship between self-rated health and drug use among elderly Danish twins, who have previously been shown to have health characteristics similar to those of the general population. This suggests that drug use is a good proxy for self-rated health and, in particular that limited drug use is a proxy for good health. This observation may point towards additional research potentials for automated drug databases.

Key words Elderly Drug-use