Study shows women's medication use higher than expected

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL(Feb. 18, 2004)--Women's use of all medications--including herbal supplements--is higher than anticipated, and they're unlikely to tell their health care providers about the medications they take, according to a University of Minnesota researcher.

A study being published in the Feb. 24 issue of American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology determined that that health care providers need to spend more time asking about medication usage.

"We really need to inquire better about patients taking herbal and over-the-counter medications," says Timothy Tracy, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy, the University of Minnesota Center of Excellence in Women's Health and one of the article's authors. "The care providers need to ask, and patients need to tell. Neither one is doing a good job."

Among the more than 570 study participants, 92 percent took prescription medications, and 96.5 percent self-medicated with an over-the-counter medication. Furthermore, 59.1 percent of study participants used herbal supplements.

Researchers also found patients may not mention medications to the physician unless that physician had prescribed the drug. For example, patients did not always tell the gynecologist they were taking high blood pressure medication prescribed by another physician.

"Patients may not perceive that their blood pressure medication was something their gynecologist needed to know about," Tracy says. "Sometimes, patients don't associate their disease and medication with the individual physician they're seeing at any given time if the physician is not the one treating that condition or if they didn't prescribe the medication."

Pharm.D. students interviewed study participants using a three-step process. Patients were asked open-ended questions about what mediations they take. The interviewer then conducted a system-by-system analysis, asking patients whether they took any medications for situat

Contact: Ashley Burt
University of Minnesota

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