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The use of prescribed and non-prescribed medication by Dutch children.

Dijk, L. van, Lindert, H. van. The use of prescribed and non-prescribed medication by Dutch children. European Journal of Public Health: 2002, 12(suppl. 4) . Abstract. 10th Annual Eupha Meeting 'Bridging the gap between research and policy in public health' in Dresden, Germany 28 - 30 november 2002.
Background: Most research on the use of medication focuses on adults. Children, however, use medication too, most of which is prescribed by GP's. Children also use non-prescribed medication (f.e. bought in the drugstore), but the extent to which is not known. Moreover, it is not known to what extent children's drug use (prescribed and non-prescribed) varies by sex, age, health status and parents' social status. Research problem: This study seeks to answer the following questions: 1) What prescribed and non-prescribed medication do children (age: 0 to 12 years) use? Does this medication vary by age, sex, health status and parents' social status (insurance, income, educational level)? 2) To what extent is the use of non-prescribed medication a complement to or a substitute for prescribed medication? Are there differences by age, sex, health status and parents' social status (insurance, income, educational level)? Data & Methods: Data are used from the Second Dutch National Survey on Morbidity and Interventions in General Practice, which includes 104 general practices. These practices register all prescriptions, providing detailed insight into the medication prescribed by GP's to children under age 12. All patients of these practices received a census form including 10 questions on for example educational level, health status and type of insurance. These data are linked with the prescription data. Moreover, a sample of 2,263 parents was interviewed about their child under age 12. This interview included questions on the use of non-prescribed and prescribed medication as well as on health and socio-demographic characteristics. Results & conclusion: Preliminary descriptive analyses on the interview data showed that the drugs most frequently prescribed to children by GP's are drugs for respiratory diseases and drugs for skin problems. Almost 20% of the children use prescribed drugs. The use of non-prescribed medication mainly consists of painkillers and was used by almost one third of the children during the two weeks before the interview. OLS-regression analyses showed that there were no significant differences between boys and girls. Younger children (0 to 3 years old) less often use non-prescribed medication than older children. Children with private health insurance use more non-prescribed medication than children with public in health insurance. The preliminary conclusion is that there are differences between groups of children with respect to the use of medication. These differences mainly refer to the use of non-prescribed medication. (aut. ref.)
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