Factors associated with long-term benzodiazepine use among older adults

New research indicates that more than 25% of older adults newly prescribed a benzodiazepine met the definition of long-term use 1 year after the initial prescription. The study examined 576 individuals, with a mean age of 78 years, who participated in Pennsylvania's prescription assistance program for low-income older adults from 2008 to 2016.

New research indicates that more than 25% of older adults newly prescribed a benzodiazepine met the definition of long-term use 1 year after the initial prescription. The study examined 576 individuals, with a mean age of 78 years, who participated in Pennsylvania's prescription assistance program for low-income older adults from 2008 to 2016. For the 152 individuals (26.4%) who met the definition of long-term use—a medication possession ratio greater than 30% in the year following the initial prescription—this group was prescribed a mean of 232.7 benzodiazepine days. Factors associated with increased long-term benzodiazepine use in adjusted analyses included being white, days supplied in the index prescription, and poor sleep quality. Meanwhile, high anxiety and depression were not linked to greater long-term benzodiazepine use in adjusted or unadjusted analyses. "In conclusion," write the authors, "for new benzodiazepine users, prescribers should 'begin with the end in mind' and immediately engage patients in discussion regarding the expected (brief) length of treatment, particularly when prescribed for insomnia."