Propoxyphene use by community-dwelling and institutionalized elderly Medicare beneficiaries

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine; Meyers Primary Care Institute

Publication Date


Document Type



Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Analgesics, Opioid; Chi-Square Distribution; Cross-Sectional Studies; Dextropropoxyphene; Drug Utilization; Female; Humans; Logistic Models; Male; Medicare; Physician's Practice Patterns; Residence Characteristics; United States


Health Services Research | Primary Care


OBJECTIVES: To provide the first comparable national prevalence estimates on use of propoxyphene, a potentially inappropriate drug, by elderly Medicare beneficiaries living in the community and institutions and to determine whether institutionalized beneficiaries are at a greater risk for receiving propoxyphene than community-dwelling beneficiaries.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study.

SETTING: U.S. representative sample of elderly using Medicare database.

PARTICIPANTS: Nationally representative sample of community-dwelling (n = 9,851, weighted n = 32.5 million) and institutionalized (n = 1,099, weighted n = 2.3 million) Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 and older.

MEASUREMENTS: National estimates on prevalence of propoxyphene use and the odds of receiving propoxyphene were the two main outcome measures.

RESULTS: Annual prevalence of propoxyphene use in 1998 was 6.8% by all community-dwelling elderly beneficiaries and 15.5% by institutionalized elderly beneficiaries. Beneficiaries in long-term care facilities had almost 40% higher odds of receiving propoxyphene (odds ratio = 1.38, 95% confidence interval = 1.1-1.8) than beneficiaries in the community even after controlling for other factors in a logistic regression. Other risk factors include female, rural residence, poor health, and history of osteoporosis or hip fracture. Beneficiaries residing in regions in the midwest and south were more than twice as likely to receive propoxyphene as those in the mid-Atlantic area.

CONCLUSION: These results show that propoxyphene use by U.S. community-dwelling seniors is high but is much higher in the institutionalized population. These findings suggest that prescribing for older adults with pain could be improved, especially for vulnerable long-term care residents.


J Am Geriatr Soc. 2003 Aug;51(8):1099-104.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society


At the time of publication, Becky Briesacher was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID