A durable minimal intervention strategy to reduce benzodiazepine use in a primary care population

Davidson, Stephen, Thomson, Chrsitine and Prescott, Gordon orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9156-2361 (2019) A durable minimal intervention strategy to reduce benzodiazepine use in a primary care population. Korean Journal of Family Medicine, 40 (6). ISSN 2005-6443

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.4082/kjfm.18.0159


Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed drugs with approximately 10% of adults having used them in the past year. These drugs are clearly addictive, yet many patients are prescribed these for years, with long-term side effects. The present study aimed to investigate whether patients on repeat diazepam prescription had their prescription reviewed to reduce and to stop the repeat prescription wherever appropriate, and whether these changes were sustained at 24 months.
The present study used a minimal intervention strategy to reduce diazepam use in a semi-rural general practice. Patients with a current prescription for diazepam were invited to visit their general practitioner for a review. Dose reduction grids were formulated for each individual to facilitate a downward titration by 1 mg each wk/ mo. Patients with psychiatric co-morbidity were also included. Interrupted time series methods were applied to the monthly data. The outcomes were evaluated at 12 and 24 months.
Ninety-two patients had diazepam on repeat prescription with 87 (94.6%) attending the review appointment. Twenty-seven patients (29.3%) were under psychiatric review and were supported by the psychiatrist with a downward titration regime. At 24 months, 63 patients (81.8% of the 77 still at the practice) had stopped or were in the process of stopping regular use of diazepam. A statistically significant reduction in total monthly diazepam prescription was observed (from 2.2 to 0.7 defined daily dose/1,000 patients/d).
This minimal intervention strategy, in collaboration between primary and secondary care, produced a durable reduction in overall diazepam prescription at the general practice.

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