Counting the time lived, the time left or illness? Age, proximity to death, morbidity and prescribing expenditures

Patrick Moore, Kathleen Bennett, Charles Normand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
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The objective is to understand what really drives prescription expenditure at the end of life in order to inform future expenditure projections and service planning. To achieve this objective an empirical analysis of public medication expenditure on the older population (individuals 70 years of age) in Ireland (n = 231,780) was undertaken. A two part model is used to analysis the individual effects of age, proximity to death (PTD) and morbidity using individual patient-level data from administrative pharmacy records for 2006-2009 covering the population of community medication users. Decedents (n = 14,084) consistently use more medications and incur larger expenditures than similar survivors, especially in the last 6 months of life. The data show a positive and statistically significant impact of PTD on prescribing expenditures with minimal effect for age alone even accounting for patient morbidities.
Nevertheless improved measures of morbidity are required to fully test the hypothesis that age and PTDare proxies for morbidity. The evidence presented refutes age as a driver of prescription expenditure and highlights the importance of accounting for mortality in future expenditure projections.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Early online date26 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


  • Ageing
  • Medication
  • Morbidity
  • Proximity to death
  • Healthcare Expenditures


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