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Rev Assoc Med Bras (1992). 2009 Jul-Aug;55(4):468-74.

[Complexity of therapeutic regimens prescribed for elderly retirees, Belo Horizonte/MG, Brazil].

[Article in Portuguese]

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Departamento de Farmácia Social, Faculdade de Farmácia, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil.



To examine factors associated with therapeutic regimen complexity of drug prescriptions for elderly people in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil.


A household survey of elderly people selected by simple random sampling from Brazil's social security register. The medication complexity index (MCI), a direct measurement of actions required to administer medication, was derived from information in the latest prescription. Univariate and bivariate analyses were performed to identify factors associated with the MCI.


Of the 667 interviewees, 56.5% had prescriptions meeting the inclusion criteria; most (69.2%) were females aged 72.4 years (mean); 35.5% self-rated their health good or very good; and 37.4% reported five or more diseases. In the 15 days prior to interview, 1873 drugs were used (mean=5.1), of which 942 appeared on the prescriptions examined (mean=2.5). Over the same period, 22.3% of interviewees failed to use some prescribed drug. The MCI ranged from 1 to 24 (mean=6.1). Number of drugs prescribed (>2), less schooling, worse perception of health and a lower benefit payment associated positively with greater complexity (p<0.05). An association was observed between regimen complexity and failure to use some drug in the preceding 15 days (p=0.034).


Elderly people in worse socio-economic and health conditions seem more likely to receive more complex therapeutic regimens, which are associated with non-compliance to the proposed treatment. This is an important consideration in the healthcare of elderly. Simplification of therapy could aid self-care among the elderly.

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