Health Status, Sociodemographic Factors, and Use of Prescribed Psychotropic Drugs

Published In: Medical Care, v. 23, no. 11, Nov. 1985, p. 1295-1306

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 1984

by Kenneth B. Wells, Caren Kamberg, Robert H. Brook, Patricia Camp, William H. Rogers

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The relations among sociodemographic factors, health status, and use of prescribed sleeping pills and tranquilizers are examined. The data are from the Rand Health Insurance Experiment, which has a random sample of the nonaged, noninstitutionalized, civilian population in six U.S. sites. Information on sociodemographic factors, health status, and the use of prescribed psychotropic drugs during the previous 3 months was obtained from self-report questionnaires collected at enrollment. Mental and physical health status have large independent and significant effects on the probability of use of both prescribed tranquilizers (P less than 0.0001) and sleeping pills (P less than 0.0001), whether or not we remove the effects of sociodemographic factors. For the probability of tranquilizer use, there is no significant interaction between gender and mental health or between mental health and physical health. Age and gender have large and significant effects on the use of prescribed psychotropic drugs even after controlling for differences in health status and other demographic factors. The effects of site and socioeconomic status are modest compared with the effects of health, age, and gender.

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