Korean J Community Nutr.  1998 Feb;3(1):76-93.

Drug Consumption and Nutritional Status of the Elderly in Chung-Buk Area: I. Diseades and Drug Consumption

  • 1Department of Food and Nutrition, Seowon University, Chongju, Korea.
  • 2Department of Food and Nutrition, Chungbuk National University, Cheongju, Korea.
  • 3Department of Home Economics Education, Dongguk University, Kyongju, Korea.


Three hundred sixty-two(male 131, female 231) elderly aged over 65 in Chungbuk area were interviewed to determine the disease states and drug usage patterns. The prebalence of disease was 78% and women reported more chronic diseases(83%) than men(71%). Elderly who live with spouse and have an occupation have a lower rate of disease. Average number of diseases of the elderly was 1.8+/-1.1, and women(2.1+/-1.3) have significantly higher average number of diseases than that of men(1.4+/-0.7). Also the elderly in urban areas(2.1+/-1.4) have significantly higher number of diseases than that of the elderly in rural areas(1.6+/-0.9). Arthritis, hypertension, cardiovascular and gastric diseases were the most frequently listed chronic diseases in order for both men and women. Anemia and fracture of bone were relatively higher in women than in men. Particularly, the arthritis of the urban elderly have a rate of 1.5 times higher than that of the rural elderly. Fifty-two percent of the elderly were currently using drugs ; among drug users 71.2% used prescription drugs and 20.5% used nonprescription drugs. The average number taken per person was 2.1+/-1.4 and there was no sex or age difference. However, the elderly in rural areas (2.7+/-1.7) consumed a significantly higher number of drugs than those in urban areas(1.7+/-0.7). The average number of prescription drugs taken was 2.0+/-1.4 while the average of nonprescription drugs taken was 1.3+/-0.6. Analgesics and antihypertensive drugs were most commonly used. Vitamin and analgesics were the most frequently used self-prescribed drugs. It was noted that potential adverse drug interaction by concominant drug consumption for arthritis and antihypensive drug, abuse of digestants and antiacid without treatment of the underlying disease, and misuse of quick-acting bowel medications were problematic for the elderly. In addition drugs used for the elderly have some adverse effect on the digestive system. The types and composition of drugs used by the elderly were identified and presented. Medication compliance was poor and 13.5% reported adverse reactions such as edema, heartburn, nausea, and difficulty with eating. Seventeen percent of the elderly obtained drugs arranged by those other than medical staff. Also, even among those elderly who obtained drugs prescribed by a doctor, 69.1% of subjects had not receive instruction about potential adverse reactions. These results suggest that nutritional problems related to drug usage might exist and so dietitians, either individually or as members of health teams, need to have a better understanding of drug-nutrient interaction and closer supervision, and drug information/education service should therefore be provided to prevent or minimize adverse drug reaction in elderly users of medication.


disease; drug consumption; elderly; prescription drug; non-prescription drug
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