Background: Age, gender and socioeconomic status have been shown to be associated with the use of prescription drugs, even after adjustment for multimorbidity. General practitioners have a holistic and patient-centred perspective and our hypothesis is that this may reflect on the prescription of drugs. In Sweden the patient may seek secondary care without a letter of referral and the liability of the prescription of drugs accompanies the patient, which makes it suitable for this type of research. In this study we examine the odds of having prescription drug use in the population and the rates of prescription drugs among patients, issued in primary health care, according to age, gender and socioeconomic status after adjustment for multimorbidity level. Method: Data were collected on all individuals above 20 years of age in Ostergotland county with about 400 000 inhabitants in year 2006. The John Hopkins ACG Case-mix was used as a proxy for multimorbidity level. Odds ratio (OR) of having prescription drugs issued in primary health care in the population and rates of prescription drug use among patients in primary health care, stated as incidence rate ratio (IRR), according to age, gender and socioeconomic status were calculated and adjusted for multimorbidity. Results: After adjustment for multimorbidity, individuals 80 years or older had higher odds ratio (OR 3.37 (CI 95% 3.22-3.52)) and incidence rate ratio (IRR 6.24 (CI 95% 5.79-6.72)) for prescription drug use. Male individuals had a lower odds ratio of having prescription drugs (OR 0.66 (CI 95% 0.64-0.69)), but among patients males had a slightly higher incidence rate of drug use (IRR 1.06 (CI 95% 1.04-1.09)). Individuals with the highest income had the lowest odds ratio of having prescription drugs and individuals with the second lowest income had the highest odds ratio of having prescription drugs (OR 1.10 (CI 95% 1.07-1.13)). Individuals with the highest education had the lowest odds ratio of having prescription drugs (OR 0.61 (CI 95% 0.54-0.67)). Conclusion: Age, gender and socioeconomic status are associated with large differences in the use of prescribed drugs in primary health care, even after adjustment for multimorbidity level.
- Hälso- och sjukvårdsorganisation, hälsopolitik och hälsoekonomi