Prescribed-drug utilization and polypharmacy in a general population in Greece: association with sociodemographic, health needs, health-services utilization, and lifestyle factors

Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2011 Feb;67(2):185-92. doi: 10.1007/s00228-010-0940-0. Epub 2010 Nov 11.


Purpose: Our aim was to analyze, in a multivariate framework, how sociodemographic, health-service utilization, health needs, and lifestyle risk factors influence drug utilization and polypharmacy (PP) in a general population in Greece.

Methods: The cross-sectional study took place in 2006. In total 1,005 individuals (> 18 years old) of 1,388 who were approached (response rate 72.4%) were interviewed by trained interviewers. Thirty-seven reported only over-the-counter (OTC) drug use and were excluded. The final sample was 968 individuals. Multivariable logistic regression and multinomial regression analyses were conducted to determine the predictors of drug use and PP at a significance level of p < 0.05.

Results: The results revealed a high rate of drug use and PP. Drug use and PP were more common among women and increased with age. Advanced age 65+ [odds ratio (OR) 11.6), university education (OR 2.3), visits to physician (OR 2.2), comorbidity (OR 6.8), or poor physical and mental health were associated with higher likelihood of using drugs. Minor (two to three drugs) and major (four or more drugs) PP depended on comorbidity, physical health, and increased age. Furthermore, visits to physicians (OR 1.1), smoking (OR 3.0), and obesity (OR 3.8) increased the likelihood of major PP.

Conclusions: Overall, drug utilization and PP depended on health needs followed by education, utilization of health services, and age. Social disparities do persist and, after adjustments for health needs and obesity, had a significant influence on PP.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Utilization / trends*
  • Female
  • Greece
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polypharmacy*
  • Prescription Drugs / therapeutic use*
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Prescription Drugs