Gender and medication use: An exploratory, multi-site study

Carla Makhlouf Obermeyer, Michelle Schulein, Anita Hardon, Lynnette Leidy Sievert, Kim Price, Aldrin C. Santiago, Olga Lazcano, Edward K. Kirumira, Melissa Neuman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Objective: This comparative study in four countries was designed to explore differences in women's and men's patterns of medication use. Methods: A total of 539 individuals, 303 women and 236 men, aged 15 years and older, were interviewed in Mexico, the Philippines, Uganda, and the US. Country-specific variables and codes adapted questions and answers to local contexts, and the instrument alternated between closed-and open-ended questions. Results: In all sites, women reported using medications more frequently than men. Differences in reported use between women and men over the month preceding the survey were significant in Mexico and Uganda, but not in the two countries with the highest medication use, the Philippines and the USA. Gender differences are explained in part by differences in the frequencies with which major symptoms/conditions are reported, as women were generally more likely to report these conditions then men, but not more likely to treat symptoms or conditions with medications. This analysis also found gendered patterns of communication and information about health: women are central to the process of communication about health and therapies and they appear to draw on a richer repertoire of knowledge, perceptions and attitudes regarding medications. Conclusions: This study documents differences in patterns of medication use, with women reporting higher use than men overall. It also finds gendered patterns of use, manifested in information and perceptions surrounding medications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-73
Number of pages17
JournalWomen and Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Communication
  • Gender
  • Health conditions
  • Medication use
  • Networks
  • Perceptions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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