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Rev Saude Publica. 2005 Dec;39(6):924-9. Epub 2005 Dec 7.

[Drug use by the elderly in Southern Brazil].

[Article in Portuguese]

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Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências Farmacêuticas, Faculdade de Farmácia, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.



To describe self-reported drug use by the elderly, evaluating the occurrence of polypharmacy and the influence of sociodemographic and health conditions on the use of medications.


A cross-sectional study comprising a sample of 215 elderly was carried out in Porto Alegre, Southern Brazil, in 2001 and 2002. Data on the use of medications were collected using questionnaires filled out during home visits. Drugs were classified according to the Anatomical-Therapeutical-Chemical Classification System.


Of all respondents, 141 (66%) were women, 117 (54%) aged between 60 and 70 years old, 157 (73%) were white, 115 (53%) lived with a partner, and 145 (67%) had some schooling. The prevalence of the use of medications by the elderly was 91% (n=195). In the week previous to the interview, 697 drugs were used, an average of 3.2 drugs per person (SD=2.5). A total of 187 (87%) subjects had attended at least one medical visit in the last year and 71 (33%) confirmed the use of over-the-counter drugs. Polypharmacy was evidenced in 57 (27%) cases.


There is a pattern of increased drug use by the elderly aged 60 years or more who lives in the study community and slight differences were determined by their health conditions and socioeconomic factors.

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