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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Kentucky: Examining Polypharmacy in Younger Populations via Maule Cohort

Although polypharmacy in younger populations is a growing public health concern, most studies addressing polypharmacy focus on elderly populations. A new study led by Ms. Ximena Oyarzún‐González, a PhD student in epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, uses data from a Chilean cohort to determine the impact of polypharmacy use by younger people and the potential need for de-prescribing in this population. Dr. Erin Abner, associate professor of epidemiology, is among the co-authors.

Investigators used data from the Maule Cohort (MAUCO), composed of adults aged 38 to 74 years, to study the prevalence of polypharmacy and associated participant characteristics. Factors studied include age, sex, self‐rated health, education, smoking, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and other chronic conditions.

Polypharmacy was reported by 10 percent of participants overall, with higher prevalence among older (defined as age 60 or older) vs. middle-aged participants. Diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular diseases, hypothyroidism, and osteomuscular diseases were significantly associated with polypharmacy. Analyses also revealed that there are MAUCO participants who are potentially being undertreated for conditions like depression.

The authors conclude further investigation into medication use among younger and middle‐aged adults and development of possible tools to deprescribe medications in this population are warranted. However, they note, it is important that patients who need treatment receive it, and so both potential overtreatment and undertreatment need further study in this population.

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