Prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines and complementary and alternative medicines use: a comparison between baby boomers and older South Australians

Bee Leng Per, Anne W. Taylor, Tiffany K. Gill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: This study examines the difference in medication use between baby boomers (born between 1946–1965) and older people (born before 1946) to determine the proportion of people combining over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) use with prescription medicine use. Design: A clustered, multistage, systematic, random, self-weighting area sample was obtained and a face-to-face interview was conducted to examine the difference in use in prescription medicines, OTC, and CAM and factors associated with the use between baby boomers and older people. Setting: South Australia. Participants: Respondents aged 15 years and over participated in surveys conducted in autumn (March to May) of 2004 (n = 3015) and 2008 (n = 3,034) in which all respondents were asked to list their current medications. This study focuses on those participants whose age was in the range defined by baby boomers and older people. Main outcome measures: Proportion in each age group taking prescription medicine, OTC medicine, and CAM were determined. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to investigate the relationships between medication use and demographic variables. Results: The results showed that older people were not only the higher users of prescriptions medicines but also OTC medicines and CAM. Gender and education were associated with the use of CAM. Conclusions: Due to the high use of CAM and OTC, it is important for the prescriber to take a full history of medication use before prescribing to reduce potential problems associated with drug interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-395
Number of pages16
JournalAIMS Public Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • baby boomers
  • medicines use
  • older people
  • polypharmacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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