Epidemiology of medication use among the elderly in an urban area of Northeastern Brazil

Sabrina Joany Felizardo Neves Ana Paula de Oliveira Marques Márcia Carrera Campos Leal Alcides da Silva Diniz Tibério Silva Medeiros Ilma Kruze Grande de Arruda About the authors


To analyze medication use and associated factors among the elderly.


A population-based cross-sectional study was carried out with a sample of 400 elderly people aged over 60 living in the urban area covered by the Family Health Strategy program in Recife, Northeastern Brazil in 2009. Individuals were selected by systematic random sampling and household data were collected. Demographic, socio-economic, lifestyle factors including nutrition practices and health variables were evaluated. Medication use was the independent variable. Univariate and multivariate statistical analysis were performed.


: The prevalence of medication use was 85.5%. Polypharmacy (> 5 drugs) occurred in 11% of cases. Of the 951 drugs reported, 98.2% were prescribed by doctors and 21.6% were considered unsafe for the elderly. The most commonly prescribed groups were: cardiovascular drugs (42.9%), central nervous system agents (20.2%) and drugs with an effect on the digestive tract and metabolism (17.3%). The use of polypharmacy was associated with education (p = 0.008), self-reported health (p = 0.012), self-reported chronic disease (p = 0.000) and the number of doctor appointments per year (0.000).


The results of this study indicate a high proportion of medication use among the elderly, including of those considered unsuitable, and inequality among groups of elderly individuals regarding the use ofmedication, when education, number of doctor appointments and self-reported health are considered.

Aged; Drug Utilization; Polypharmacy; Socioeconomic Factors; Urban Health

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