Elderly patients taking inappropriate drugs are at increased risk for adverse outcomes. We investigated the prevalence of inappropriate drug use and its predisposing factors in community-residing older persons.
We conducted in-home interviews with 414 subjects aged 75 years and older living in the community of Santa Monica, Calif. Inappropriate medication use was evaluated using explicit criteria developed through a modified Delphi consensus process. These criteria identified drugs that should generally be avoided in elderly community-residing subjects regardless of dosage, duration of therapy, or clinical circumstances.
Based on these conservative criteria, 14.0% of the subjects were using at least one inappropriate drug. The most common examples were long-acting benzodiazepines, persantine, amitriptyline, and chlorpropamide. Subjects using three or more prescription drugs, compared with one or two, were more likely to be taking an inappropriate medication (odds ratio, 3.9; 95% confidence interval, 1.9 to 7.9). Furthermore, subjects with depressive symptoms had a higher risk of receiving inappropriate medications than nondepressive subjects (odds ratio, 2.2; 95% confidence interval, 1.1 to 4.1).
Inappropriate drug use is a common problem in community-residing older persons. The risk of inappropriate drug use is increased in patients taking multiple medications and in patients with depressive symptoms.(Arch Intern Med. 1994;154:2195-2200)