Export file:


  • RIS(for EndNote,Reference Manager,ProCite)
  • BibTex
  • Text


  • Citation Only
  • Citation and Abstract

Prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines and complementary and alternative medicines use: a comparison between baby boomers and older South Australians

1 SA Pharmacy, Central Adelaide Local Health Network, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide, SA, Australia
2 Adelaide Medical School, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, Australia

Objective: This study examines the difference in medication use between baby boomers (born between 1946–1965) and older people (born before 1946) to determine the proportion of people combining over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) use with prescription medicine use. Design: A clustered, multistage, systematic, random, self-weighting area sample was obtained and a face-to-face interview was conducted to examine the difference in use in prescription medicines, OTC, and CAM and factors associated with the use between baby boomers and older people. Setting: South Australia. Participants: Respondents aged 15 years and over participated in surveys conducted in autumn (March to May) of 2004 (n = 3015) and 2008 (n = 3,034) in which all respondents were asked to list their current medications. This study focuses on those participants whose age was in the range defined by baby boomers and older people. Main outcome measures: Proportion in each age group taking prescription medicine, OTC medicine, and CAM were determined. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to investigate the relationships between medication use and demographic variables. Results: The results showed that older people were not only the higher users of prescriptions medicines but also OTC medicines and CAM. Gender and education were associated with the use of CAM. Conclusions: Due to the high use of CAM and OTC, it is important for the prescriber to take a full history of medication use before prescribing to reduce potential problems associated with drug interactions.
  Article Metrics


1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (2008) Population projections, Australia, 2006 to 2101. Canberra. Available from: https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/3222.02006%20to%202101.

2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Disability and ageing: Australian population patterns and implications Canberra: 2000. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/disability/disability-and-ageing-australian-population/contents/table-of-contents.

3. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) South Australia‟s baby boomer: a profile. Canberra: 2003. Available from: https://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/ausstats/subscriber.nsf/0/91071EDDF27A0E58CA256DDA000 2C431/$File/4149455001_2003.pdf.

4. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Baby boomers and the 2001 census. Canberra: 2003. Available from: https://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/D3110129.NSF/f128006d2d1e7c10ca2566fd0081ba4b/3cd1 2b553c337b4aca256d050000ec99!OpenDocument.

5. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2014. Available from: https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Previousproducts/3235.0Feature%20Article12014?op endocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=3235.0&issue=2014&num=&view.

6. Qato DM, Alexander GC, Conti RM, et al. (2008) Use of prescription and over-the-counter medications and dietary supplements among older adults in the United States. JAMA 300: 2867–2869.    

7. National Center for Health Statistic (2011) Health, United States, 2011. U.S. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus11.pdf.

8. Espino DV, Lichtenstein MJ, Hazuda HP, et al. (1998) Correlates of Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medication Usage Among Older Mexican Americans: The Hispanic EPESE Study. J Am Geriatr Soc 46: 1229–1234.

9. National Institutes of Health (NIH) (2011) Complementary and Alternative Medicine: What people aged 50 and older discuss with their health care providers. USA: NIS. Available from: https://nccih.nih.gov/sites/nccam.nih.gov/files/news/camstats/2010/NCCAM_aarp_survey.pdf.

10. Franchi C, Tettamanti M, Pasina L, et al. (2014) Changes in drug prescribing to Italian community-dwelling elderly people: the EPIFARM–Elderly Project 2000–2010. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 70: 437–443.    

11. Linjakumpu T, Hartikainen S, Klaukka T, et al. (2002) Use of medications and polypharmacy are increasing among the elderly. J Clin Epidemiol 55: 809–817.    

12. Helling DK, Lemke JH, Semla TP, et al. (1987) Medication use characteristics in the elderly: the Iowa 65+ Rural Health Study. J Am Geriatr Soc 35: 4–12.    

13. Stoehr GP, Ganguli M, Seaberg EC, et al. (1997) Over-the-counter medication use in an older rural community: the MoVIES Project. J Am Geriatr Soc 45: 158–165.    

14. Darnell JC, Murray MD, Martz BL, et al. (1986) Medication use by ambulatory elderly. An in-home survey. J Am Geriatr Soc 34: 1–4.    

15. Cadigan DA, Magaziner J, Fedder DO (1989) Polymedicine use among community resident older women: how much a problem? Am J Public Health 79: 1537–1540.    

16. Hanlon JT, Fillenbaum GG, Burchett B, et al. (1992) Drug-use patterns among black and nonblack community-dwelling elderly. Ann Pharmacother 26: 679–685.    

17. Goh L, Vitry A, Semple S, et al. (2009) Self-medication with over-the-counter drugs and complementary medications in South Australia's elderly population. BMC Complement Altern Med 9: 42.    

18. The National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM) (2009) Facts and Statistics 2009. Sydney: NICM.

19. Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Therapeutic Goods Regulation: Complementary medicines. Canberra: Department of Health and Ageing, 2011. Available from: https://www.anao.gov.au/sites/default/files/201112%20Audit%20Report%20No%203.pdf.

20. Masnoon N, Shakib S, Kalisch-Ellett L, et al. (2017) What is polypharmacy? A systematic review of definitions. BMC Geriatr 17: 230.

21. Hilmer SN (2008) The dilemma of polypharmacy. Aust Prescr 31: 2–3.    

22. Hovstadius B, Petersson G (2012) Factors leading to excessive polypharmacy. Clin Geriatr Med 28: 159.    

23. Wilson DH, Wakefield M, Taylor AW (1992) The South Australian Health Omnibus Survey. Health Promot J Aust 2: 47–49.

24. Australian Government Department of Health. Therapeutic Goods Administration. Canberra, 2017. Available from: https://www.tga.gov.au/types-complementary-medicines.

25. Hosmer DW, Lemeshow S (2000) Applied Logistic regression, 2nd ed, New York: J Wiley and Sons.

26. Brown K (2004) Key experiences of „baby boom‟ cohorts. Department of Family and Community Services Canberra 2002–2003. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia, 2004. Available from: https://www.dss.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/05_2012/australiansocialpolicy2002-03.pdf.

27. Buckley J (2008) Baby boomers, obesity, and social change. Obes Res Clin Pract 2: 73–82.    

28. Morgan TK, Williamson M, Pirotta M, et al. (2012) A national census of medicines uses: 2 24-hour snapshot of Australians aged 50 years and older. Med J Aust 196: 50–55.    

29. Kit BK, Ogden CL, Flegal KM, et al. (2012) Prescription Medication Use Among Normal Weight, Overweight, and Obese Adults, United States, 2005–2008. Ann Epidemiol 22: 112–119.    

30. Stewart RB, Moore MT, May FE, et al. (1991) A longitudinal evaluation of drug use in an ambulatory elderly people. J Clin Epidemiol 44: 1353–1359.    

31. Chrischilles EA, Foley DJ, Wallace RB, et al. (1992) Use of medications by persons 65 and over: data from the established populations for epidemiologic studies of the elderly. J Gerontol 47: M137–144.    

32. Cohen I, Rogers P, Burke V, et al. (1998) Predictors of medication use, compliance and symptoms of hypotension in a community-based sample of elderly men and women. J Clin Pharm Ther 23: 423–432.    

33. Amoako EP, Richardson-Campbell L, Kennedy-Malone L (2003) Self-medication with over-the-counter drugs among elderly adults. J Gerontol Nurs 29: 10–15.

34. Hanlon JT, Fillenbaum GG, Ruby CM, et al. (2001) Epidemiology of over-the-counter drug use in community dwelling elderly: United States perspective. Drugs Aging 18: 123–131.    

35. Arthritis Australia. Arthritis Information Sheet: Complementary therapies. Available from: https://arthritisaustralia.com.au/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/ComplementaryTherapies_0118.pdf.

36. Colquhoun D, Ferriera-Jardim A, Udell T, et al. (2008) Fish, fish oils, n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and cardiovascular health. Victoria: National Heart Foundation of Australia. . Available from: https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/images/uploads/main/For_professionals/Fish-FishOils-revie-of-evidence.pdf.

37. Schaffer AL, Buckley NA, Dobbins TA, et al. (2015) The crux of the matter: Did the ABC's Catalyst program change statin use in Australia? Med J Aust 202: 591–595.    

38. Wold RS, Lopez ST, Yau CL, et al. (2005) Increasing trends in elderly persons‟ use of nonvitamin, nonmineral dietary supplements and concurrent use of medications. J Am Diet Assoc 105: 54–63.    

39. Luskin FM, Dinucci EM, Newell KA, et al. (2003) Select populations: elderly patients. In: John WS, Joseph JJ, eds. Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2nd ed. Saint Louis: Mosby, 482–502.

40. Xue CC, Zhang AL, Lin V, et al. (2007) Complementary and alternative medicine use in Australia: a national population-based survey. J Altern Complement Med 13: 643–650.    

41. MacLennan AH, Myers SP, Taylor AW (2006) The continuing use of complementary and alternative medicine in South Australia: costs and beliefs in 2004. Med J Aust 184: 27–31.    

42. Eisenberg DM, Kessler RC, Foster C, et al. (1993) Unconventional medicine in the United States: prevalence, costs, and patterns of use. N Engl J Med 328: 246–252.    

43. Vinks THA, Egberts TCG, de Lange TM, et al. (2009) Pharmacist-based medication review reduces potential drug-related problems in the elderly: the SMOG controlled trial. Drugs Aging 26: 123–133.    

44. Jorgensen T, Johansson S, Kennerfalk A, et al. (2001) Prescription drug use, diagnoses, and healthcare utilization among the elderly. Ann Pharmacother 35: 1004–1009.    

45. Robinson A, McGrail MR (2004) Disclosure of CAM use to medical practitioners: a review of qualitative and quantitative studies. Complement Ther Med 12: 90–98.    

46. Rogers J (2011) Personal health budgets: A new way of accessing complementary therapies? Complement Ther Clin Pract 17: 76–80.    

47. Kim HJ, Chun KH, Kim DJ, et al. (2011) Utilization patterns and cost of complementary and alternative medicine compared to conventional medicine in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Diabetes Res Clin Pract 93: 115–122.    

© 2019 the Author(s), licensee AIMS Press. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licese (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)

Download full text in PDF

Export Citation

Article outline

Show full outline
Copyright © AIMS Press All Rights Reserved