Objectives: to measure sex differences in the risk of receiving potentially inappropriate prescription drugs and to examine what are the factors that contribute to these differences.
Design: a retrospective cohort study.
Setting: community setting of British Columbia, Canada.
Participants: residents of British Columbia aged 65 and older (n = 660,679).
Measurements: we measured 2013 period prevalence of prescription dispensations satisfying the American Geriatrics Society's 2012 version of the Beers Criteria for potentially inappropriate medication use in older adults. We used logistic regressions to test for associations between this outcome and a number of clinical and socioeconomic factors.
Results: a larger share of women (31%) than of men (26%) filled one or more potentially inappropriate prescription in the community. The odds of receiving potentially inappropriate prescriptions are associated with several clinical and socioeconomic factors. After controlling for those factors, community-dwelling women were at 16% higher odds of receiving a potentially inappropriate prescription than men (adjusted odds ratio = 1.16, 95% confidence interval = 1.12–1.21). Much of this sex difference stemmed from women's increased odds of receiving potentially inappropriate prescriptions for benzodiazepines and other hypnotics, for tertiary tricyclic antidepressants and for non-selective NSAIDs.
Conclusion: there are significant sex differences in older adults' risk of receiving a potentially inappropriate prescription as a result of complex intersections between gender and other social constructs. Appropriate responses will therefore require changes in the information, norms and expectations of both prescribers and patients.