Health Services Utilization

Medication Use

In 2003, medication was prescribed or provided at 595.3 million physician office visits; multiple drugs were recorded at 39.5 percent of all visits. The percent of visits with one or more drugs prescribed or provided was similar for males and females (66.4 versus 65.2 percent). Among females, 34.8 percent of visits did not involve prescribing or providing any drugs, 26.1 percent of visits involved the prescription or provision of one drug, and 15.0 percent of visits involved two drugs. The frequency with which different types of drugs are discussed can be driven by numerous factors, including a change in the prevalence of the disease or condition that the drug treats, evidence regarding the efficacy of the drug, and the level of marketing that the drug receives. For instance, since 2001, overall rates of hormone replacement therapy for women 45 years and older declined from 55.6 to 30.7 drug mentions per 100 office visits. This decline reflects the effects of two large clinical trials that found increases in coronary heart events associated with hormone replacement therapy.1

The prescription or provision of medications among females varies by age and drug type. In 2003, the use of cardiovascular/renal and pain relief drugs generally increased with age, while respiratory tract drugs decreased with age. Discussions about central nervous system drugs, including mental health medications such as antidepressants, during physician visits were most common among women in the middle age groups, with the highest rate occurring among women aged 45 to 64 years of age (mentioned 24.3 times per 100 visits). The highest rate of drug mentions was 59.9 mentions per 100 visits; this was for cardiovascular/renal drugs among women 75 years and older. The lowest rate of drug mentions (1.1 per 100 visits) was for cardiovascular/renal drugs among females under 15 years of age; for this age group, the most common type was respiratory tract drugs (mentioned 27.1 times per 100 visits).

1Hing E, Cherry DK, Woodwell DA. National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2003 summary. Advance Data from Vital and Health Statistics, No. 365; 2005 Oct.

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Women's Health USA 2006 is not copyrighted. Readers are free to duplicate and use all or part of the information contained on this page. Suggested Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Women's Health USA 2006. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006.