Nav: Home

'Brown bag' gives more complete picture of meds taken by older adults

June 03, 2004

In a recent Penn State study, when adults age 65 to 91 were asked to bring in all of their prescription medications in a brown paper bag, the resulting list was more complete than their official pharmacy records.

Dr. Grace Caskie, research associate, Penn State Gerontology Center, who conducted the analysis, says, "Because people use multiple doctors, third party payers and pharmacies; often receive samples from their physicians; and sometimes even use other people's medicines, there is usually no single independent source of information on what medications they are taking."

For example, in the Penn State study, pharmacy records showed that 20 percent of the participants had no current prescriptions, but only 10 percent of the people actually reported no current prescriptions.

"Using the brown bag method of self-reporting could help doctors more accurately monitor medication compliance, guard against polypharmacy and prevent drug interactions," Caskie notes.

The study is detailed in a paper, "Congruence of Self-Reported Medications with Pharmacy Prescription Records in Low-Income Older Adults," published in the current issue of the journal, The Gerontologist. Caskie's co-author is Dr. Sherry L. Willis, professor of human development.

The participants included 294 predominantly White, female (87.8 percent), low-income individuals whose average age was 74.5. They were part of another study, Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE). The participants were also members of PACE, Pennsylvania's Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly. So, their brown bags could be checked against PACE records.

In general, the researchers found a high level of agreement between the contents of the brown bags and the PACE pharmacy records. Caskie says, "Mismatches between the brown bags and the pharmacy records were most often explained by the pharmacy records not including a drug that the participant had reported in the brown bag, rather than the participant omitting a drug found in their pharmacy records."

If the patient was taking less of the medicine than the physician prescribed in order to extend the supply, medications might be included in the brown bag beyond their prescribed dosing window, the Penn State researchers note. Such behavior may explain why 10 percent of the participants had no current pharmacy records for prescription refills but reported taking medications.

The researchers also found that individuals with worse health consistently had poorer matches between the brown bags and the PACE records. Married participants and those in better health were less likely to omit drugs included in the pharmacy records. Medications for more serious conditions or those that are taken on a long-term basis were more likely to be reported than medication taken on an as needed basis, for a short time or for less serious conditions. Drugs taken in forms other than by mouth, for example via a patch, were more likely to be omitted from brown bags.

The researchers write, "Although self-report measures are widely used, few studies have examined the congruence of prescription records and self report measures." They conclude, "We believe the brown bag method provides a reasonable substitute for pharmacy records as a measure of current medications."
The study was supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute on Nursing Research.

Penn State

Related Medications Articles:

Antidepressant medications appear to be generally safe
Antidepressants are generally safe, according to a new study by an international team of researchers.
Best medications to reduce drooling for those with developmental disability
A new study has revealed the most effective medications to reduce drooling in young people with a developmental disability, which can affect their socialisation, relationships and community life.
Opioid treatment for teens? Medications can help
Teens who misuse prescription or illicit opioids might benefit from opioid treatment medications, according to a new study led by a Yale researcher.
The technology behind Bitcoin may improve the medications of the future
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have developed a prototype of an app that may potentially prescribe the optimal dose of medicine for the individual patient, as well as prevent counterfeit products.
Diabetes medications masking surgical complication
A new class of diabetes medications is masking the potentially dangerous condition of ketoacidosis at the time of surgery.
More Medications News and Medications Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...