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Medication Adherence Varies Between Races

Elderly whites more likely to take their meds than blacks, study finds

FRIDAY, Dec. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly black Americans use fewer medications than whites and are more likely to skip taking their meds, a new study finds.

It included 100 black and 100 white patients, aged 60 and older, who were interviewed at the start of the study, and again six months and one year later.

Overall, whites used more medications, had more chronic medical conditions and used more physicians. Whites were more likely than blacks to have adequate health literacy skills (58 percent vs. 29 percent) and less likely to be unable to afford medications (12 percent vs. 28 percent).

The most common problems for both whites and blacks were: medication non-adherence (42 percent vs. 68 percent), under treatment (83 percent vs. 87 percent), suboptimal drug use (59 percent vs. 66 percent), and suboptimal dosing (48 percent vs. 56 percent).

The findings support previous research showing that elderly black patients have higher rates of medication non-adherence than whites. But, overall, medication-related problems are prevalent and persist in both races, the researchers said.

"Strategies to better measure the quality of medication use in older adults are needed, and efforts to improve the quality of medication use in older adults must account for potential differences in both the number and types of problems affecting whites and blacks," concluded Dr. Mary Roth and her colleagues at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The study was published online Dec. 11 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

More information

The AGS Foundation for Health in Aging has more about medications.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Journal of General Internal Medicine, news release, Dec. 14, 2009

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