(HealthDay News) — Americans older than 50 years are interested in cutting back on prescription medications, dovetailing with a movement toward “deprescribing,” according to the results of the latest University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging. The poll was administered online and by phone in January to more than 2500 adults aged 50 to 80 years, then weighted to reflect the US population.
About 67% said they would seek their doctor’s advice before dropping a pill. Yet more than one-third of older adults said they had quit taking a medication they had been using for more than a year without talking first to a doctor, pharmacist, or nurse practitioner.
About 82% of people between 50 and 80 years of age take at least one prescription medicine regularly, the poll showed. About 28% think they take too many medicines. More than half of respondents take three or more prescription medications. About 11% regularly take 3 or more over-the-counter medicines. Furthermore, approximately 38% take 3 or more vitamins, minerals, or supplements.
Reasons for deprescribing or reducing a medication include resolution of a temporary health condition; potential problems with other medicines; or the overall benefits and risks of taking it have changed.
About 80% of respondents said they would be open to stopping 1 or more prescriptions they have taken for more than a year if a health care provider said it was possible. About 26% had already done so during the past 2 years. About 38% of those taking 5 or more prescriptions had stopped taking a medication compared with 23% of those taking 3-4 prescriptions and 17% of those taking 1-2.
The poll also revealed that people who had a health problem or disability that limits their usual activities and those in fair or poor physical or mental health were nearly twice as likely to say they had stopped taking a medication in the past 2 years compared with those in better health.
“While we found that over 90% of older adults who take at least 1 prescription medicine expect their provider to review their list of medicines at least annually, research has shown this is often not the case,” Sarah Vordenberg, PharmD, MPH, a clinical associate professor at the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy who worked on the poll, said in a university news release. “This drives home the importance of comprehensive medication reviews, which can often be billed to insurance by clinics and pharmacies as a separate patient encounter.”