Seeking prescribing patterns in rural Crete: a pharmacoepidemiological study from a primary care area

Rural Remote Health. 2006 Jan-Mar;6(1):488. Epub 2006 Feb 7.


Introduction: Deliberation of drug prescribing patterns is essential in an effort to improve prescribing standards and quality of care. It is vital for pharmaco-epidemiological research. In this study, data from GPs' practices was used to explore variation in the prescribing patterns in a rural area of Crete. This article reports the findings with respect to the patients' age, sex and diagnoses, and discusses them with the broad aim of identifying areas for practice improvement.

Methods: One thousand prescriptions, issued during a one-year period, were pre-selected from the area of Anogia Health Centre in Crete, Greece. A copy of each pre-selected prescription was made, and a short pre-tested questionnaire with supplementary information about the prescription was filled. Age, gender, prescription through a third person's intervention, and renewal of an old prescription, were registered on this questionnaire. Drugs were classified according to the International Classification of Primary Care--Drugs, and diagnoses according to the International Classification of Primary Care.

Results: The vast majority of prescriptions, namely n = 285 (74.2%) for male and n = 481 (78.1%) for female patients, were prescribed for individuals between the ages of 50 and 89 years. The 10 most commonly recorded diagnoses were found in 54.2% of the studied prescriptions for the male population, although only 47% for the female. Hypertension, respiratory infections, and ischaemic heart disease were, over all, the most commonly recorded diseases. The drugs commonly recorded for both sexes were paracetamol and furosemide, as well as some antibiotics. Analysis of the prescribing data revealed that more than one in every three prescriptions was prescribed through a third-person contact and 69.8% (n = 698) of the prescriptions were renewal of an older one. For more than 51% of the cases, the patients asked only for a prescription. The diagnosis 'oral contraceptive' was absent in the study, while there was a large consumption of antibiotics.

Conclusion: The prescribing patterns illustrated in this study present both similarities with and differences from the registered patterns in other studies. The recognition of these patterns is an essential tool for the GPs who are serving rural areas of Crete, and formulation of practical guidelines on the drugs most often prescribed is anticipated to improve the primary care physicians' performance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / therapeutic use
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Diuretics / therapeutic use
  • Drug Prescriptions / standards*
  • Drug Utilization
  • Female
  • Furosemide / therapeutic use
  • Greece
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pharmacoepidemiology*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Rural Population*
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Diuretics
  • Acetaminophen
  • Furosemide