Over-the-counter medication use in residents of senior living communities: A survey study: A survey study

Y. Paliwal, R. M. Jones, L. R. Moczygemba, T. L. Gendron, P. A. Nadpara, P. Parab, P. W. Slattum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Self-medication with over-the-counter (OTC) products is common among older adults. Although OTC self-medication is a convenient way to manage some health issues, older persons may be at higher risk of experiencing medication-related problems. This study examines the prevalence, practices, and preferences associated with OTC medication use in older adult residents of senior living communities. OBJECTIVES: The study aimed to examine the characteristics of OTC medication users and to quantify the prevalence, attitudes, perceptions, preferences, and practices regarding OTC medication use and decision-making in 2 senior living communities in central Virginia. METHODS: The study used survey methodology. A 51-item semistructured questionnaire was designed by the research team of geriatrics specialists, and mixed-methods and evaluation researchers. The questionnaire was administered in-person to participants (N = 88). Descriptive analyses were conducted using SAS 9.4. Characteristics of those using OTC medications as directed by a health professional were compared with those of whom were self-medicating with OTC medications. RESULTS: Most of the sample were women (55%), black (61%) and had less than or equal to a high school education (55%). Analgesics were the most (76%) prevalent OTC therapeutic category used, and aspirin was the most (65%) prevalent OTC medication. A greater (82%) proportion of respondents reported self-recommended OTC medication use (self-medication with OTC medications) rather than physician recommended use (18%). A high (41%) prevalence of inappropriate use of OTC medications was observed in this sample of older adults. Most (80%) considered OTC medications safe and effective. The pharmacy was the most (93%) commonly reported purchase location to buy an OTC medication. Physicians were the most (90%) commonly reported information source for OTC medications. CONCLUSION: Considering the high percentage of self-reported self-medication, inappropriate use, and experiences of adverse effects, steps should be taken to develop consumer education and relationships with pharmacists to encourage the responsible use of OTC medications in this population.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)736-744
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Pharmacists Association : JAPhA
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2021


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