In 2002, medication was prescribed or provided at 577.1 million physician office visits, which represents 1.3 billion prescriptions. The percent of visits at which one or more drugs was prescribed or provided was slightly higher for females than males (65.5 compared to 63.9 percent). The overall drug mention rate was similar between 2001 and 2002; however, the rate at obstetrics/gynecology visits increased 48 percent, due in part to an increase in the discussion of contraceptives and vitamins.1

The use of medications among females varies by age and drug type. In 2002, the use of cardiovascular/renal and pain relief drugs among women increased with age, while respiratory tract drug use decreased with age. Discussions about central nervous system drugs, including antidepressives, during physician visits were most common among women in the middle age groups, with the highest rate occurring among women aged 25-44 (18.5 percent of office visits). The most commonly mentioned drug types were cardiovascular/renal drugs among women 75 and older (59.8 percent of visits). The lowest rate was for cardiovascular/renal drugs among females under the age of 15 (0.7 percent of visits). Among females under age 15, respiratory tract drugs were most likely to be discussed (24.4 percent of visits).

Graph: Medication Use Reported for Females During Physician Office Visits[d]

1Woodwell DA, Cherry DK. National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2002 summary. Advance Data from Vital and Health Statistics, No. 346, August 2004.