The primary objective of this study was to establish the types of relationships that exist between specific population characteristics and the patterns of expenditure and utilization for medicines prescribed in the non-institutionalized setting. Seven characteristics were examined. They are age, sex, race, family income, household head education level, family size, and perceived health status. The 1980 National Medical Care Utilization and Expenditure Survey provided the source of data. The study examined both the likelihood that individuals in the population used at least one prescription drug during the year (users versus nonusers) and the yearly volume of prescriptions used (by the users). The average annual expenditure and usage rates for the population as a whole were $ 34.86 and 4.57, and for the users, $ 55.86 and 7.33, respectively. The following factors exhibited positive relationships to the likelihood that an individual would use prescribed medicines: advancing age, being female, being white, and deleriorating health status. Increasing family size had a negative effect on the likelihood of prescription drug use. Factors which had a positive effect on actual volume of use among users were: advancing age, being female, being white, and deteriorating health status. The following factors had a negative effect on actual volume of use: increasing family income, increasing education level of head of household, and increasing family size.
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