Prescription medication hoarding and borrowing or sharing behaviours in older residents in the Illawarra, New South Wales, Australia

Australas J Ageing. 2011 Sep;30(3):119-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-6612.2010.00457.x. Epub 2010 Oct 1.


Aim: To examine prescription medication hoarding and borrowing or sharing (PMHBS) behaviours in older people, particularly which medications are subject to these behaviours and the circumstances that enable these behaviours.

Methods: A mixed methods triangulation design, using consecutive qualitative (focus groups) and quantitative (survey) methodologies in a convenience sample of people older than 65 years, living independently in the Illawarra region (New South Wales).

Results: Focus group participants (n = 28) acknowledged PMHBS behaviours were widespread; however, very few survey respondents (n = 226) admitted to engaging in these behaviours. Main findings in the study were enablers for these behaviours: the prescription medication is considered the same as that prescribed previously; and self-medicating for pain relief.

Conclusions: The prevalence of PMHBS behaviours in this study was low, although it was acknowledged such behaviours occurred in the wider community. Sharing strong pain medication and the same prescription medication appeared to be acceptable in this population.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Surveys
  • Hoarding / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence
  • New South Wales
  • Patient Safety
  • Prescription Drugs* / adverse effects
  • Self Medication


  • Prescription Drugs