Medication use and gender in Massachusetts: Results of a household survey

Carla Makhlouf Obermeyer, Kim Price, Michelle Schulein, Lynnette Leidy Sievert, Douglas L. Anderton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


In this study, we investigate the extent to which women and men differ in patterns of medication use, based on quantitative and qualitative data from a household survey in Western Massachusetts. Using a broad definition of medications, 96% of the sample reported taking one or more medications in the month preceding the survey (86% if vitamins, supplements, and alternative medications are excluded). Twenty-one percent of respondents reported taking five or more medications, and women were significantly more likely to report taking five or more medications in the month preceding the survey. For both sexes, analgesics and vitamins were the most commonly used medications, but women were more likely to report having taken hormones, supplements, and antihistamines. The likelihood of medicating reported health conditions did not differ by sex, but the frequency of reporting health conditions was higher among women, and the difference was significant for body aches and psychosomatic conditions. Analyses of qualitative data indicate that female networks of relatives and friends are an important source of advice on medications for both men and women. Responses to open-ended questions suggest that women's discourse about the effect of medications differs from men's in terms of the range and detail of descriptions of symptoms and side effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)593-613
Number of pages21
JournalHealth Care for Women International
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Health Professions


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