Individual and Contextual Determinants of Regional Variation in Prescription Drug Use: An analysis of administrative data from British Columbia

Steven G. Morgan, Colleen M. Cunningham, Gillian E. Hanley
Research Summary: 

Purpose of Study
This study explored the determinants of variations in the use of prescription drugs, drawing on health services theories of access to care.

Research Approach/Method
The authors used population-based health care data to determine the effects of area- and individual-level determinants on use of prescription drugs.

Key Overarching Message
The authors found that characteristics of individuals and the areas in which they live affect likelihood of prescription drug purchase.

Key Findings
Individual-level factors influenced prescription drug purchases in ways generally consistent with behavioral models of health services use. Contextual variables exerted influences that differed by type of drug studied. Population health, education levels, and ethnic composition of local areas were associated with significant differences in the likelihood of purchasing medications. Relatively modest regional variations remained after both individual-level and area-level determinants were taken into account.