Transnational trends in prescription drug misuse among women: A systematic review

Bridgette Peteet, Cami Mosley, Brittany Miller-Roenigk, Caravella McCuistian, Shapree’ Dixon

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Prescription drug misuse (PDM) has been on the rise since early 2000 and is now an international epidemic. Prescription drugs are easily accessible and perceived as less harmful, yet can lead to addiction and death. Women represent half of the world's population and pose a unique risk for PDM, including a greater burden of addiction and relapse. Despite this, no identified studies have methodically reviewed the literature exploring PDM among adult women. The authors searched four EBSCOhost and World Health Organization (WHO) Global Index Medicus databases and identified 93 articles (88 vs. five respectively). Studies with data on the prevalence and correlates of PDM among women around the globe were included. In the EBSCOhost search, over 40% of the studies were secondary data analyses and nearly two-thirds (63.6%) examined opioid analgesics (similar results found in WHO articles). Women were represented in a fraction of all PDM studies yet in over a half (56.1%) of the selected studies, women abused one or more prescription drugs at equal rates or higher than men. For ethnicity, 21 studies reported that White women had higher rates of PDM than other ethnicities and 13 found no differences. Nearly all of the studies (90%) that examined problematic physical and mental health correlates found significant associations. The findings suggest that clinicians may need more inclusive and broaden their consideration of risk for PDM. As prescriptions become more readily available around the world, PDM research should be more representative and monitor unique risk and protective factors among women to better inform prevention and intervention efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-73
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
StatePublished - Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.


  • Drug abuse
  • International drugs
  • International prescription drugs
  • International substance abuse
  • Prescription drug misuse
  • Prescriptions
  • Women drug use
  • Women's substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy


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