Received: April 12, 2011
Accepted: June 23, 2011
Shalini, Joshi MC. Study of polypharmacy and associated problems among elderly patients. Internet J Med Update. 2012 Jan;7(1):35-9.


Shalini* MD and M C Joshi** MD

*Associate professor, **Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology Rohilkhand Medical College Hospital, Bareilly (UP), India

(Corresponding Author: Dr M C Joshi, Department of Pharmacology, Rohilkhand Medical College Hospital, Bareilly, UP India; Mobile: +919759850210; Email:


The study aims at the assessment of prescribing pattern for elderly patients, since they are more prone to prescription of multiple medications. The prescription of multiple medications leads to polypharmacy, more adverse drug reactions and non-adherence to treatment. The study was conducted on OPD basis in a rural health centre for a period of six months. Information pertaining to the age, sex, religion, monthly income, education level, any previous illnesses, or any chronic diseases, any drug treatment, adherence to the treatment, and self medication or non-allopathic treatment was collected. The study included 310 elderly patients, among which 51.9% were males and 48.1% were females. The prevalence of polypharmacy was 25.20%, more among elderly men (26.10%) than women (24.20%), the odds ratio (OR) was 1.11. The major fraction 35.81% of the patients was in the age group of 60-64 years. Only 59.3% were literate. 64.41% belonged to lower socioeconomic status. The cardiovascular diseases 139 (44.83 %) followed by arthritis 121 (39.03%), and diabetes 58 (18.71%) were the most common ailments. Anti-hypertensive drugs were prescribed in 26.13%, analgesics/antipyretics in 19.68%, and anti-diabetic drugs in 18.71%. Non-adherence to therapy was seen in 49.68%. Self medication habits were seen in 23.90% patients, who most commonly used analgesics/antipyretics and antacids/anti-ulcer drugs. Polypharmacy is very common among elderly and interventions to improve the optimal use of medication in elderly could lead to reduction in the problems associated with polypharmacy.

KEY WORDS: Non-adherence; Polypharmacy; Self medication

Images from this publication

Socio-demografic profile
Disease pattern
Drug untilization pattern
Self medications