Polypharmacy and self-reported health status of older adults with multimorbidities in a rural community




Johnson, Leigh
Shrestha, Nistha
Rasu, Rafia
O'Bryant, Sid


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PURPOSE: About four in ten elderly Americans suffer from multiple chronic conditions, and 39% are taking more than five medications. Polypharmacy(using ≥five medications) is associated with age, multi-morbidities, and poor self-perceived health status. Psychological and socio-educative factors influence polypharmacy and medication adherence, with limited studies in rural elders. Hence this study aims to examine the self-reported health status among older adults with multi-morbidities in rural areas. METHODS: Project FRONTIER(Facing Rural Obstacles to Healthcare Now Through Intervention, Education & Research) is a prospective epidemiological study, using community-based participatory research(CBPR) approach to study factors affecting health in Cochran, Bailey, and Parmer County. All county residents over 40 years and were eligible for inclusion in the study after informed consent. The association between medical history and health-status was examined using logistic regression. Polypharmacy and multi-morbidities were used to predict poor health status. RESULTS: About 689 individuals participated in FRONTIER with a mean age of 68, with 43% Hispanic, and 68.7% female participants. Individuals taking ≥five medications presented 2.69 times higher odds of reporting poor health-status(AOR=2.69,CI=1.85-3.90) compared to those using < 5 medications, after controlling for demographic covariates. Individuals with ≥five co-morbidities presented 4.31 times higher odds of reporting poor health-status(AOR=4.31,CI=2.67-6.95). CONCLUSION: The presence of polypharmacy and multi-morbidities increase the odds of poor self-perceived health status. Future research should examine factors that contribute to polypharmacy among rural elders, as well as the role of patient perspectives and healthcare barriers on medication usage.