This series contains the Elderly and their Medicines dataset. This survey was carried out by the Institute of Social Studies in Medical Care on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS). The aim of the survey was to examine the medicine-taking habits of a representative sample of elderly people and to look at the issues raised by this from the viewpoint of the elderly people, their lay carers (if appropriate) and their doctors. The principal aim of the survey was to use the data gathered to improve health care given to older people. The survey was intended to follow up a number of local surveys with a nationally based inquiry into the medicine taking of elderly people. It was established to examine the problems arising from the fact that older people are more likely to suffer from disability and disease and are therefore prescribed more medicines as a result. This in itself can lead to a variety of problems which the survey hoped to examine including drug inter-reactions, the possibility that elderly people may be more prone to side effects or more sensitive to certain drugs and problems caused by dual prescribing systems of hospitals and general practitioners.
The study gathered data from a nationally representative sample of people born in 1919 or earlier, about the drugs they took and those that were prescribed for them. The survey examined the sources of the drugs taken by the respondents, the patterns of prescription and consumption. It also looked at the relationship between elderly people and their doctors and the general health and circumstances of those participating in the survey. Any problems perceived by the survey respondents that were associated with the medicines they were taking were also examined. The second phase of the study examined the situation from the point of view of the respondents' medical practitioners and attempted to identify discrepancies between what had been prescribed and what had been taken. The study also considered the interface between general practitioners and hospitals over prescribing for elderly people.
Face to face interviews using the main questionnaire were carried out with the elderly people selected to participate in the survey or in certain circumstances with their main carer. Carers or helpers were interviewed in situations where the elderly person was too ill or frail to be interviewed or where they were judged to be too confused about their medicine taking to give accurate responses. In such circumstances carers were interviewed if they were in control of the subject's medicine taking. The Institute of Social Studies in Medical Care aimed to study health issues from the viewpoint of both patients and professionals, consequently the sequence of interviews with elderly people and their carers was followed up by interviews with medical practitioners. The Institute's interviewers approached the subjects' general practitioners with the aim of carrying out a postal survey covering their views and practices when dealing with elderly patients. This was followed up by a questionnaire relating to individual patients.
Data was collected from elderly people living in ten parliamentary constituencies in England [North Thanet, Chingford, South Norfolk, Wirral West, Westbury (Wiltshire), West Gloucestershire, Leicester South, Newcastle upon Tyne North, St Helens North, Stockton North], with probability proportional to the number of electors. The constituencies were stratified by the proportion of people of pensionable age, and a random starting point was taken. In each area a systematic sample was taken. Data includes medicines, medicine-taking habits, hoarding of medicines, and relationships with general practitioners (as the main prescribers) and pharmacists.
The datasets in this series are available to download. Links to individual datasets can be found at piece level.