Prescription Drug Use Among Adults With Chronic Conditions in South Korea: Dual Burden of Health Care Needs and Socioeconomic Vulnerability

Asia Pac J Public Health. 2016 Jan;28(1):39-50. doi: 10.1177/1010539515612906. Epub 2015 Oct 28.


The aim of this study is to identify the social determinants of prescription drug use among adults with chronic diseases by examining the associations between socioeconomic position and prescription medicine use and perceived burden for pharmaceutical expenditure, using a sample of the Korean population from the 2008 Korea Health Panel, with 4 analytic models. Controlled with health status and the type of health insurance, the probability of using prescription drugs and overall spending on drugs significantly increased with rising income level, while perceived burden for out-of-pocket payment significantly decreased. These results imply that the poor are likely to underuse prescription drugs compared with their wealthier counterparts with the same need for health care, probably due to economic barriers.

Keywords: South Korea; chronic disease; out-of-pocket payment; perceived burden; pharmaceutical expenditure; socioeconomic position.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease / drug therapy*
  • Delivery of Health Care / economics
  • Female
  • Health Expenditures / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prescription Drugs / economics
  • Prescription Drugs / therapeutic use*
  • Republic of Korea
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Prescription Drugs