A Comparison of Sex Differences in Psychotropic Medication Use in Older People with Alzheimer’s Disease in the US and Finland

Daniela C. Moga, Heidi Taipale, Anna Maija Tolppanen, Antti Tanskanen, Jari Tiihonen, Sirpa Hartikainen, Qishan Wu, Gregory A. Jicha, Danijela Gnjidic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Aims: Given the high prevalence of psychotropic medication use in people with dementia and the potential for different prescribing practices in men and women, our study aimed to investigate sex differences in psychotropic medication use in older adults with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) living in the US and Finland. Methods: We used data collected between 2005 and 2011 as part of the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center (NACC) in the US, and Medication use and Alzheimer’s disease (MEDALZ) cohorts in Finland. We evaluated psychotropic medication use (antidepressant, antipsychotic, anxiolytic, sedative, or hypnotic) in participants aged 65 years or older. We employed multivariable logistic regression adjusted for demographics, co-morbidities, and other medications to estimate the magnitude of the association (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] with 95% confidence intervals [CIs]) according to sex. Results: We included 1099 NACC participants (502 [45.68%] men, 597 [54.32%] women), and 67,049 participants from the MEDALZ cohort (22,961 [34.24%] men, 44,088 [65.75%] women). Women were more likely than men to use psychotropic medications: US, 46.2% vs. 33.1%, p < 0.001; Finland, 45.3% vs. 36.1%, p < 0.001; aOR was 2.06 (95% CI 1.58–2.70) in the US cohort and 1.38 (95% CI 1.33–1.43) in the Finnish cohort. Similarly, of the different psychotropic medications, women were more likely to use antidepressants (aOR-US: 2.16 [1.44–3.25], Finland: 1.52 [1.45–1.58]) and anxiolytics (aOR-US: 2.16 [1.83–3.96], Finland: 1.17 [1.13-1.23]) than men. Conclusion: Older women with AD are more likely to use psychotropic medications than older men, regardless of study population and country. Approaches to mitigate psychotropic medication use need to consider different prescribing habits observed in older women vs. men with AD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-65
Number of pages11
JournalDrugs and Aging
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer International Publishing Switzerland.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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