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The Gerontologist 44:176-185 (2004)
© 2004 The Gerontological Society of America

Congruence of Self-Reported Medications With Pharmacy Prescription Records in Low-Income Older Adults

Grace I. L. Caskie, PhD1, and Sherry L. Willis, PhD1,2

Correspondence: Address correspondence to Grace I. L. Caskie or Sherry L. Willis, Gerontology Center, 135 E. Nittany Ave., Suite 405, The Pennsylvania State University, State College. E-mail: caskie{at} or slw{at}

Purpose: This study examined the congruence of self-reported medications with computerized pharmacy records. Design and Methods: Pharmacy records and self-reported medications were obtained for 294 members of a state pharmaceutical assistance program who also participated in ACTIVE, a clinical trial on cognitive training in nondemented elderly persons. The average age of the sample participants was 74.5 years (range = 65–91); 87.8% were females. Results: Congruence between self-report and pharmacy data was generally high. Self-reports omitted drug classes in the pharmacy records less often than the pharmacy records did not include self-reported drug classes. The percentage of individuals with perfect agreement between self-reports and pharmacy records varied from 49% for major drug classes to 81% for specific cardiovascular and central nervous system drugs. Within a drug class, agreement tended to be higher for individuals without a prescription in that class. Poorer health was consistently related to poorer self-report of medications. Implications: Self-reported medications are most likely to be congruent with pharmacy records for drugs prescribed for more serious conditions, for more specific classes of drugs, and for healthier individuals.

Key Words: Brown bag method • Drug use in elderly persons • Medication adherence or compliance

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