FRIDAY, Sept. 14, 2018 (HealthDay News) — More than one-quarter of older adults newly prescribed benzodiazepine by an non-psychiatric clinician transition to long-term use, according to a research letter published online Sept. 10 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Lauren B. Gerlach, D.O., from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, and colleagues examined the transition to long-term benzodiazepine use among 576 older adults (mean age, 78.4 years) newly prescribed benzodiazepine by a non-psychiatric clinician from 2008 to 2016. The definition of long-term use was a medication possession rate above 30 percent in the year following the index prescription.

The researchers found that 26.4 percent of adults met the definition of long-term use one year after the index prescription; they were prescribed a mean of 232.7 benzodiazepine days. In adjusted analyses, white race, days supplied in the index prescription, and poor sleep quality correlated with increased long-term benzodiazepine use (odds ratios, 4.19, 1.94, and 4.05, respectively). In unadjusted and adjusted analyses, neither high anxiety nor depression predicted long-term benzodiazepine use.

“It is a cause for concern that these nonclinical factors are associated with benzodiazepine prescribing, which suggests that approaches to reduce prescribing of this drug that focus on specific clinical populations may have limited success,” the authors write.

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