DETERMINANTS OF PRESCRIBING FOR THE ELDERLY IN PRIMARY HEALTH CARE
The global increase in people aged 60 years and above had attracted the attention of the world to the magnitude of the problems of providing health care for the elderly(1) . The proportion of geriatric population in developed countries reached between 12 and 18% of total population and expected to increase in coming years(2,3), a phenomenon known as the "baby boomers" in the west. Similar changes noticed in developing countries(4), and Saudi Arabia is not an exception. In Saudi Arabia studies on general population in primary health care PHC showed an average of 3.2 ± 0.04 drugs per prescription and an average of 1.8 ± 0.3 drugs per patient. Higher numbers are expected to be found in the elderly population which composes about 20.7% of patients attending PHC (5.6) .
Traditional teaching suggests that a prescription should be safe, necessary, effective and economical.
Since increasing number of elderly patients, a group with special medical needs, will be seen in PHC, the objective of the present study was conducted to evaluate the essential drugs list available now (7) taking into consideration the needs of this age group.
Subjects and methods:
This is a cross sectional study that was conducted in Riyadh. During April-July 2001.
The study population was elderly patients aged 60 years and above, who were registered in a training (Rabwah) primary health care (PHC) center.
A pilot study was conducted in King Fahad PHC center and relevant changes in questionnaire were made after ward. The final questionnaire completed included the following: -
1. Demographic data such as age, gender, level of education and place for follow up of disease.
2. Health variables such as number of concomitant diseases, diagnoses, number, types, sources and availability of medications used by patient, whether patient is using any medical appliances and information related to it, i.e. devices like diabetes kits.