Patterns of medical drug use - a community focus.
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The pattern and extent of medical use of drugs was examined by survey in a rural Ontario community (Smithville) and a suburban (Burlington) family practice. Changes in established patterns of drug use that occur after the introduction of a nurse practitioner were also examined in the suburban practice. In both surveys 60% of respondents were using at least one medication and 30% were taking at least one medication prescribed or suggested by a doctor. There were consistently high rates of use of nonprescribed drugs at all ages, especially among females. Vitamins and tonics were the most commonly used drugs, and were taken by 25 to 28% of the respondents, 40% of whom used them on the advice of a physician. From 8.8 to 10.5% of respondents used sedatives or tranquillizers, and reduction in the prescribed use of these drugs was found among patients managed by the nurse practitioners. Self-medication is apparently unrelated to the frequency of medical consultation.
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