Trends in psychotropic medication use among U.S. adults

Authors

  • Ryne Paulose-Ram PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hyattsville, Maryland, USA
    • National Center for Health Statistics, NHANES Program, 3311 Toledo Road, Rm. 4333, Hyattsville, MD 20782, USA.
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  • Marc A. Safran MD, FACPM, DFAPA,

    1. Chair, Mental Health Work Group, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
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  • Bruce S. Jonas ScM, PhD,

    1. Office of Analysis and Epidemiology, National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hyattsville, Maryland, USA
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  • Qiuping Gu MD, PhD, MPH,

    1. Division of Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hyattsville, Maryland, USA
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  • Denise Orwig PhD

    1. Department of Epidemiology & Preventive Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
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  • No conflict of interest was declared.

  • This article is a US Government work and is in the public domain in the U.S.A.

Abstract

Purpose

To examine trends and prevalence of prescription psychotropic medication use among noninstitutionalized US adults.

Methods

Prescription medication data from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES; 1988–1994; n = 20 050) and the 1999–2002 NHANES (n = 12 060), two nationally representative cross-sectional health examination surveys, were examined for persons aged ≥17 years.

Results

The age-adjusted prevalence of psychotropic medication use increased from 6.1% in 1988–1994 to 11.1% in 1999–2002 (p < 0.001). This was due to more than a three-fold increase in antidepressant use (2.5%, 1988–1994 vs. 8.1%, 1999–2002 (p < 0.001)). Significant increases between time periods for antidepressant use were seen for all age, gender, and race-ethnic groups although increases were less pronounced for males than females and non-Hispanic blacks and Mexican Americans than non-Hispanic whites. Prevalence of use remained relatively constant from 1988–1994 to 1999–2002 for anxiolytic/sedative/hypnotic (ASH) medications (3.5–3.8%), antipsychotics (0.8–1.0%), and antimanic agents (0.3–0.4%). The age-adjusted prevalence of multiple psychotropic medication use increased from 1.2% in 1988–1994 to 3.1% in 1999–2002 (p < 0.001).

Conclusions

Psychotropic medication use among US adults increased since 1988–1994, specifically of antidepressants. Increases varied by gender and race-ethnicity indicating under-utilization for non-Hispanic blacks and Mexican Americans compared to non-Hispanic whites for both males and females. Published in 2007 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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