Background: Large differences exist in the prevalence rate of drugs prescribed to children and adolescents between and within countries. The aim of this study was to evaluate child and adolescent drug prescription patterns in Italy in an extra-hospital setting at the regional and Local Health Unit (LHU) levels.Methods: Data sources were three regional prescription databases. Data concerning the year 2008 were evaluated. A total of 3.3 million children and adolescents were included. Drug prevalence and prescription rates were evaluated at the regional and LHU levels. The correlation between mean latitude, average annual income, hospitalisation rate, number of paediatricians per 1,000 resident children, and prevalence rate was evaluated by LHU using a linear multiple regression analysis.Results: Large differences were found across Italian regions and LHUs. The mean prevalence rate was 56.4% (95% CI 56.3-56.5%; 51.2-65.4% among regions) and, at the LHU level, ranged from 43.1% to 70.0% (higher in the South). A total of 878 drugs were prescribed, 175 of which were shared by all LHUs. Amoxicillin clavulanate was the most used drug in all regions and in 31 of 33 LHUs. Amoxicillin was the drug with the highest variability in use between LHUs (9.1-52.1% of treated children). An inverse correlation was found between prevalence rate and both latitude (p <0.0001) and average annual income (p = 0.0002).Conclusions: The use of drugs in children and adolescents is higher in southern Italy and is inversely related to latitude and average annual income. More efforts should be devoted to informing physicians, patients and policy makers in order to plan effective initiatives to improve the situation.
- Drug utilisation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health