The factors contributing to long-term benzodiazepines

Poor quality sleep, the white race and mass assignment are key factors leading to long-term use of benzodiazepines in the elderly, which directly correlated with adverse outcomes, including death. These are the results of a study published in JAMA Psychiatry.

According to the clinical recommendations in cases where use of benzodiazepines is necessary, they should be assigned short courses. However, studies show that about one third of all appointments of this group of drugs are carried out on a long term basis and most often in the elderly. The factors leading to excessive appointment, is poorly studied.

In the study to identify risk factors, we used data of the program SUSTAIN. In particular, we study how the number of elderly people who were assigned the benzodiazepines without psychiatric units, passed to prolonged use of drugs. We also evaluated clinical characteristics of patients, leading to long-term use. The study involved 576 persons, whose average age was 78.4 years.

Analysis of the data showed that 26.4% of patients met the criterion of “long term application” a year after the first appointment. On average, they were prescribed benzodiazepines for 232,7 days.

The study authors recommend starting with a short-term appointment of benzodiazepines and involve patients in the discussion of the optimal time for reassessment of symptoms and reduction of the use of drugs. It also requires improving the availability of non-pharmacological treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy, and training methods of therapy.

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