This study aimed to determine the prevalence and predictors of chronic polypharmacy among pediatric patients in an outpatient setting.
We conducted a review of medications dispensed to patients from an outpatient pediatric facility during a 12-month period. Patients who received chronic medications (≥30 days' supply), which contained at least 1 active pharmaceutical ingredient were included in the study. Descriptive analysis was used to determine prevalence of polypharmacy while predictive factors for polypharmacy were evaluated using logistic regression.
Our study included 3920 patients (median age, 9.9 years; IQR, 9.4) and 16,401 medications. The median number of chronic medications used among our study cohort was 2.0 (IQR, 1) with polypharmacy identified in 309 (7.9%) patients. Predictors for polypharmacy were age and the use of certain therapeutic class of medications. Patients 12 to <19 years old (OR, 6.95; 95% CI, 4.1–10.1) were more likely to require ≥5 concurrent medications compared with patients younger than 2 years of age. Use of calcium supplements (OR, 21.2; 95% CI, 11.3–39.6), Vitamin D analogues (OR, 14.3; 95% CI, 8.0–25.8), and systemic glucocorticoids (OR, 18.8; 95% CI, 10.7–33.2) were also highly associated with polypharmacy.
Adolescents and children with chronic medical conditions who require prolonged systemic glucocorticoids, calcium, and Vitamin D supplements are at higher risk of incurring long-term polypharmacy. This subgroup of pediatric patients may be more vulnerable to the occurrence of negative outcomes resulting from the use of multiple chronic medications.