Open Access Open Badges Research article

Socioeconomic determinants of psychotropic drug utilisation among elderly: a national population-based cross-sectional study

Eva Lesén1*, Karolina Andersson1, Max Petzold1 and Anders Carlsten12

Author Affiliations

1 Nordic School of Public Health (NHV), Box 121 33, 402 42 Gothenburg, Sweden

2 Department of Research and Development, the National Corporation of Swedish Pharmacies, Gothenburg, Sweden

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:118  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-118

Published: 9 March 2010



Psychotropic drugs are commonly utilised among the elderly. This study aimed to analyse whether two socioeconomic determinants - income and marital status - are associated with differences in utilisation of psychotropic drugs and potentially inappropriate psychotropic drugs among elderly in Sweden.


All individuals aged 75 years and older who had purchased a psychotropic drug in Sweden during 2006 were included (68.7% women, n = 384712). Data was collected from national individual-based registers. Outcome measures were utilisation of three or more psychotropic drugs and utilisation of potentially inappropriate psychotropic drugs, as classified by the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare.


Individuals with low income were more likely to utilise three or more psychotropic drugs compared to those with high income; adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 1.12 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.10-1.14). The non-married had a higher probability for utilising three or more psychotropic drugs compared to the married (aOR 1.22; CI 1.20-1.25). The highest probability was observed among the divorced and the never married. Potentially inappropriate psychotropic drugs were more common among individuals with low compared to high income (aOR 1.14; CI 1.13-1.16). Compared to the married, potentially inappropriate psychotropic drug utilisation occurred more commonly among the non-married (aOR 1.08; CI 1.06-1.10). The never married and the divorced had the highest probability.


There was an association between socioeconomic determinants and psychotropic drug utilisation. The probability for utilising potentially inappropriate psychotropics was higher among individuals with low income and among the non-married.