Iceland has the fourth highest proportion of people who use prescription medicine according to the European Health Interview Survey 2015. More women than men use prescription medicine. The gender gap is widest in the youngest age group, 15-24 year olds, but disappears among people 65 years and older.
Use of prescription medicine most common in Belgium
In Iceland around 55% of the population used prescription medicine, which is the fourth highest proportion among the European countries participating in the survey. The proportion was highest in Belgium, around 60%, but lowest in Romania, just under 23%. Of the Nordic countries Finland came closest to Iceland, with just under 55% of people using prescription medicine, followed by Norway (47.5%), Sweden (47%) and Denmark (46%).
More women than men use prescription medicine
Approximately 63% of women and 48% of men in Iceland used prescription medicine. The difference was largest in the youngest age group, 15-24 year olds, where 56% of women and 26% of men used such medicine. The proportion drops to 45% for women but rises to 33% for men in the next age group, 25-34 year olds. The use of prescription medicine rises sharply after age 44. The increase is greater for men than women 45-64 years old, but for 65 years and older, the use of prescription medicine was virtually the same for men and women, i.e. just over 87%.
About the European Health Interview Survey
Health interview surveys offer comprehensive data on the health status of a population and health-related topics based on answers by respondents of a representative sample of the population. The Icelandic survey was conducted in autumn 2015. The sample consisted of 5,700 individuals drawn randomly from the population registry. This yielded responses from 4,001 persons, a response rate of 70.2%.
Measuring prescription drug use: Participants in the European Health Interview Survey were asked if they had used prescription medicine in the previous two weeks. Birth control pills were excluded.