European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology

, Volume 59, Issue 8–9, pp 677–684 | Cite as

Prescription and non-prescription medicine use in Denmark: association with socio-economic position

  • Merete W. NielsenEmail author
  • Ebba Holme Hansen
  • Niels Kristian Rasmussen
Pharmacoepidemiology and Prescription



To analyse the association among different types of medicine use and different measures of socio-economic position (SEP) in one and the same general population.


Data from The Danish Health and Morbidity Survey 2000 were analysed. The survey was conducted by face-to-face interviews with a representative sample of the adult Danish population (n=16,690). The associations between prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicine use and education, occupation and income were assessed by logistic regression analyses. All analyses were adjusted for age, gender and two measures of health status.


This cross-sectional analysis of medicine use in a large representative sample of the Danish population found greater use of prescription medicines among disability pensioners and “others” than in salaried employees. Disability pensioners and self-employed individuals used less OTC medicine than salaried employees. Individuals with low income used more prescription medicines but not more OTC medicines, than those with high income. No major differences were found in prescription medicine use with respect to education, but men within the two middle educational groups tended to use prescription medicine less frequently than both lower and higher educated men. A similar trend was not found for women. OTC medicine use was not associated with education for either gender.


The prevalence of prescription medicine use increases with declining SEP, after adjusting for health status. Such an association does not exist for OTC medicine use. The results show that the least affluent have access to prescription medicine. The difference between prescription and OTC medicine use may be explained by a compensation mechanism.


Socio-economic position Prescription medicine Over-the-counter medicine 



The authors would like to thank Ola Ekholm, National Institute of Public Health, for statistical support during the analyses. Data collection was funded by a grant from The Danish Ministry of Health and a Ph.D. fellowship from The Danish University of Pharmaceutical Sciences.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Merete W. Nielsen
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  • Ebba Holme Hansen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Niels Kristian Rasmussen
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Social PharmacyThe Danish University of Pharmaceutical SciencesDenmark
  2. 2.FKL—Research Centre for Quality in Medicine UseDenmark
  3. 3.National Institute of Public HealthCopenhagenDenmark
  4. 4.Department of Social PharmacyThe Danish University of Pharmaceutical SciencesCopenhagenDenmark

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