Medication use in four communities: The ARIC study

Fredric J. Romm, Fred Eckel, Pamela J. Schreiner, Azmi Nabulsi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: We examined the use of prescription (RX) and over-the-counter (OTC) medications among participants in a prospective study of atherosclerosis. Methods: Volunteers between ages 45-64 were recruited in four communities: Jackson, MS; Forsyth County, NC; suburban Minneapolis, MN; and Washington County, MD. Participants were examined for risk factors for atherosclerosis. As part of the study, they brought medications used within the previous two weeks. Labels were copied and coded from a dictionary derived from the Therapeutic Classification System. Results: Medication usage ranged from 0 to 33 per participant. Mean usage was 3.2 per person, evenly divided between RX and OTC drugs. Participants aged 55-64 used 3.5 and those 45-54 used 3.0 medications. Whites reported more medications than blacks (mean 3.4 vs. 2.7), related to greater OTC use. Women used more medication than did men (mean 3.8 vs. 2.5). Major categories included analgesics (56% of participants), nutritionals (31%), and cardiovascular (30%). Conclusions: Our study characterizes adult medication use in four communities' samples, which will be used to assess changes in cardiovascular risk factors and health care use over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-33
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Pharmacoepidemiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 16 1996


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