Social Determinants of Polypharmacy in First Generation Mexican Immigrants in the United States

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Family Medicine, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles, USA

2 Health Behavior and Health Education (HBHE), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA

3 Department of Pharmacy Practice, West Coast University School of Pharmacy, Los Angeles, CA, USA

4 Department of Family Medicine, UCLA, Los Angeles, USA



Introduction: Socioeconomic status (SES) indicators are among the main social determinants of health and illness. Less, however, is known about the role of SES in the epidemiology of polypharmacy in immigrant Latino Americans living in the United States. This research studied the association between three SES indicators, education, income, and employment, and polypharmacy in older first generation Latino American immigrant adults.
Methods: Data was obtained from the Sacramento Area Latino Study on Aging (SALSA, 1996-2008). A total of 632 older first generation Mexican-American immigrants to the U.S. entered this analysis. The independent variables were education, income, and employment. Polypharmacy was the outcome. Age, gender, physical health, smoking, and drinking were the covariates. Binary logistic regression was used to analyze the data.
Results: Employment was associated with lower odds of polypharmacy. The association between education and polypharmacy was above and beyond demographic factors, physical health, health behaviors, and health insurance. Neither education nor income were associated with polypharmacy. Other determinants of polypharmacy were poor self-rated health (SRH) and a higher number of chronic medical conditions (CMCs).
Conclusion: Employment appears to be the major SES determinant of polypharmacy in older foreign-born Mexican Americans. Unemployed older Mexican American immigrants with multiple chronic diseases and those who have poor SRH have the highest need for an evaluation of polypharmacy. Given the age group of this population, most of them have health insurance, which provides an opportunity for reducing their polypharmacy.


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