Background: Self-report is commonly used as a source of information on the use of medicine. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between self-reported and register-based information on the use of psychoactive medication, especially in respect to antidepressants, and reasons of non-reporting.
Methods: Study subjects (n = 11,031) originated from a population-based cohort of postmenopausal women born in 1932-41 from Eastern Finland who responded to a postal enquiry in 1999. Self-reported currently used prescribed medications were compared to the National prescription register data. Diuretics served as a reference for psychoactive medications.
Results: Only 44% out of 1,638 women reported their use of psychoactive medication when compared to the prescription register within a 4-month time window preceding their response to enquiry. Altogether, 55% out of 777 women reported their use of antidepressants and 29% out of 861 reported their use of other psychoactive medications. In comparison 83% reported their use of diuretics. After excluding the occasional use, an increase in sensitivity by approximately 10 percentage points was seen regardless of the group of psychoactive medication. High use and history of work disability pension due to psychiatric cause were associated with a much higher likelihood of reporting psychoactive medication use (for antidepressants 70% and 81%, respectively).
Conclusions: For research purposes, self-reported current use of psychoactive medication seems to be a sufficient indicator for regular use of antidepressants or in respect of use of any psychoactive medication, for subjects with severe psychiatric disease.