Gender and age related differences in the use of medicines for chronic diseases among undocumented migrants

Gianfrancesco Fiorini, Cesare Cerri, Antonello E. Rigamonti, Silvia Bini, Nicoletta Marazzi, Alessandro Sartorio, Silvano G. Cella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to evaluate gender-related differences in the use of drugs for chronic diseases in undocumented migrants. Design/methodology/approach: The authors analyzed the databases of two charitable organizations providing medical help and medicines to undocumented migrants. Data were available for 9,822 patients in the period 2014–2016. The authors grouped medicines according to the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) classification. We considered the ATC group as an indicator of a group of diseases. Findings: Both males and females needed medicines for chronic diseases in a comparable manner. When we analyzed the age distribution, The authors noticed that males showed a tendency to begin to be affected at an earlier age; however, this cumulative difference was not statistically significant. But when we looked at six groups of drugs separately (cardiovascular, respiratory, anti-thrombotic, neurologic, psychiatric, anti-diabetic), the authors found that females always needed drugs for chronic diseases at a later age, always with a significant difference (p<0.0001 for cardiovascular, antithrombotic, antidiabetic and psychoactive drugs; p<0.002 for neurologic products; p<0.04 for drugs used in chronic respiratory conditions). Research limitations/implications: This is a retrospective study based on the analysis of existing databases, but the peculiar features of this population (undocumented migrants) do not allow at the moment controlled studies. Practical implications: Our observations could be important when planning public health strategies, especially in the field of prevention. Originality/value: This is the first report of gender differences in the use of medicines for chronic diseases within a large sample of undocumented migrants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-229
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 10 2018


  • Chronic non-communicable diseases
  • Gender
  • Pharmacoepidemiology
  • Undocumenred migrants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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