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.

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Published in Drugs & Aging, v. 34, issue 1, p. 55-65.

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

The copyright holder has granted the permission for posting the article here.

This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Drugs & Aging. The final authenticated version is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40266-016-0419-5

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This work was supported by Grant No. K12 DA035150 (Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health) from the National Institutes of Health, Office of Women's Health Research and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (DM) and National Health and Medical Research Early Career Fellowship (DG). The NACC database is funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA)/National Institutes of Health (NIH) Grant U01 AG016976.

Due to the large number of funding sources, only the first few are listed in this section. For the complete list of funding sources, please download this article.