European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology

, Volume 60, Issue 1, pp 51–55 | Cite as

Socio-economic inequalities in first-time use of antidepressants: a population-based study

  • D. G. Hansen
  • J. Søndergaard
  • W. Vach
  • L. F. Gram
  • J. U. Rosholm
  • P. B. Mortensen
  • J. Kragstrup
Pharmacoepidemiology and Prescription



To analyse whether first-time use of antidepressants (incidence) and selection of TCAs (tricyclic antidepressants) versus new-generation drugs are associated with socio-economic status and psychiatric history.


We conducted a population-based cohort study using registry data covering Funen County, Denmark. A total of 305,953 adult residents without antidepressant prescriptions 5 years prior to the study period (1998) were included.


The 1-year incidence rate of antidepressant prescription (1.7%) increased with age. It was higher in people who were female, less educated, unemployed, those receiving old-age or disability pension, low-income groups, and singles. The proportion prescribed new-generation antidepressants (82%) showed no difference according to socio-economic variables (education, annual income and socio-economic group), but was higher among the young and single. Admission to psychiatric hospital within 4 years prior to the study period was associated with high-incidence rate of antidepressant prescription and overall a preference for the new-generation antidepressants.


Socio-economic status did not seem to influence the selection of TCAs versus new-generation antidepressants. Compatible with the general epidemiology of depression, low socio-economic status was associated with a high number of first-time users of antidepressants in the population, and the incidence rate increased with age.


Antidepressive agents Incidence Socio-economic status 



The study was funded by The Danish Research Foundation for general practice, grant no. 585–148509. We thank Secretary Lise Stark for proofreading the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. G. Hansen
    • 1
  • J. Søndergaard
    • 1
  • W. Vach
    • 2
  • L. F. Gram
    • 3
  • J. U. Rosholm
    • 4
  • P. B. Mortensen
    • 5
  • J. Kragstrup
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Unit of General PracticeUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark
  2. 2.Department of StatisticsUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark
  3. 3.Clinical PharmacologyUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark
  4. 4.Department of GeriatricsOdense University HospitalOdenseDenmark
  5. 5.National Center of Register-based ResearchAarhus UniversityÅrhusDenmark

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