Alcohol and prescription drug safety in older adults
Faika Zanjani,1,2 Aasha I Hoogland,1 Brian G Downer1
1Department of Gerontology, 2Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA
Background: The objectives of this study were to investigate older adults' knowledge of prescription drug safety and interactions with alcohol, and to identify pharmacists' willingness to disseminate prescription drug safety information to older adults.
Methods: The convenience sample consisted of 48 older adults aged 54–89 years who were recruited from a local pharmacy and who completed surveys addressing their alcohol consumption, understanding of alcohol and prescription drug interactions, and willingness to change habits regarding alcohol consumption and prescription drugs. To address pharmacist willingness, 90 pharmacists from local pharmacies volunteered and answered questions regarding their willingness to convey prescription drug safety information to older adults.
Results: Older adults reported low knowledge of alcohol and prescription drug safety, with women tending to be slightly more knowledgeable. More importantly, those who drank in the previous few months were less willing to talk to family and friends about how alcohol can have harmful interactions with prescription drugs, or to be an advocate for safe alcohol and prescription drug use than those who had not had a drink recently. Pharmacists reported that they were willing to convey prescription drug safety information to older adults via a variety of formats, including displaying or distributing a flyer, and directly administering a brief intervention.
Conclusion: In this study, older adults were found to have inadequate knowledge of prescription drug safety and interactions with alcohol, but pharmacists who regularly come in contact with older adults indicated that they were ready and willing to talk to older adults about prescription drug safety. Future research should focus on interventions whereby pharmacists disseminate prescription drug safety information to older adults in order to improve healthy prescription drug and alcohol behavior and reduce medical and health costs associated with interactions between alcohol and prescription drugs.
Keywords: aging, alcohol, drug, pharmacist, prescription drugs, safety
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