Background: There are few studies reporting on self-medication, perceptions or difficulties older adults have with their medications. This study aimed to describe the uses and the perceptions of medications among older adults in France and to identify patient groups based on that information.
Methods: We used data from the 2020 'French Health Barometer' - a nationally-representative cross-sectional survey. We assessed polypharmacy (five or more medications), self-medication, and patient perceptions of medications. Robust Poisson regression was used to investigate socio-demographic and health-related factors associated with the outcomes. Latent class analysis was used to identify patient groups classified by the use and the perceptions of medications. Factors associated with group assignment were investigated by multinomial logistic regression. All analyses were weighted.
Results: The study sample comprised 1,623 respondents aged 70-85 years. Polypharmacy and self-medication were reported in 23.5 and 48.7% of the older population, respectively. Polypharmacy was associated with increasing age, low education, and impaired health status. Self-medication was associated with female sex and high education. Among individuals taking at least 1 medication, 8.2% reported not to understand all their medications, and 9.7% having difficulty taking medications as prescribed. Among individuals taking at least 2 medications, 23.2% thought that they took too many medications. Three patient groups were identified: 'Non-polypharmacy, positive perceptions' (62.5%), 'Polypharmacy, positive perceptions' (28.0%), and 'Negative perceptions' (9.5%).
Conclusions: Polypharmacy and self-medication are common in French older adults. One segment of people reported negative perceptions of their medications regardless of their polypharmacy status. This underlines the difference between the objective and perceived measures of polypharmacy.
Keywords: Health survey; Older adults; Perceptions; Polypharmacy; Self-medication.
© 2022. The Author(s).