Background. The number of medically homebound adults has grown with the aging of the U.S. population, yet little is known about their health care utilization. We sought to characterize the health status and medication utilization of an urban cohort of homebound adults and to identify factors associated with medication use in this population. Methods. We performed a retrospective cross-sectional analysis of 415 patients enrolled in a primary care program for homebound adults in New York City during October 2002. Numbers of medications were obtained from formularies corroborated by home visits. For patients without prescription insurance, medication out-of-pocket costs were estimated according to average wholesale pricing. Sociodemographic and disease characteristics were obtained by chart abstraction. Results. The median age was 83 years (range 25-106 years). Seventy-seven percent of patients were female, 63% were non-white, and 28% spoke Spanish. Sixty-four percent of patients had Medicaid. The cohort had a mean of 8.2 (range 1-27, standard deviation 4.5) medications prescribed per month. Multivariate analysis showed that increasing age was associated with fewer medications (p < .001). Charlson comorbidity score was positively associated with number of medications (p < .001), whereas Activities of Daily Living score, a measure of functional dependence, was not. Twentyseven percent of the cohort lacked prescription drug coverage. The total number of medications per month among the uninsured patients was 7.4 (standard deviation 4.4). Estimated median monthly out-of-pocket cost for the uninsured patients was $223 (range $1-$1512). Conclusions. For homebound patients without prescription drug coverage, medication use may represent substantial financial burden. Additional research is needed to determine whether out-of-pocket medication costs represent a barrier to care in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-415
Number of pages5
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2006


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