Consequences of a benzodiazepine discontinuation programme in family practice on psychotropic medication prescription to the participants

W. J.M.J. Gorgels*, R. C. Oude Voshaar, A. J.J. Mol, E. H. van De Lisdonk, J. Mulder, H. van Den Hoogen, A. J.L.M. van Balkom, M. H.M. Breteler, F. G. Zitman

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background. Whether long-term benzodiazepine users who participate in a family practice-based benzodiazepine discontinuation programme substitute benzodiazepines by other psychotropics is not clear. Objective. To evaluate the impact of a benzodiazepine discontinuation programme on non-benzodiazepine psychotropic prescription in family practice. Methods. In family practices in the Netherlands, 2425 long-term benzodiazepine users participated in a two-step benzodiazepine discontinuation programme. The programme started with a discontinuation letter (Step 1). Subjects unable to stop (N = 1707) were offered participation in Step 2, a three-group randomized trial with a taper procedure with group psychotherapy, a taper without psychotherapy and usual care. Only 156 subjects agreed to participate. The comparison group consisted of 1821 long-term users from family practices not participating in the programme. The main outcome was the change in prescription of non-benzodiazepine psychotropic medication from baseline (3 months before the start of the programme) till 21 months after the start of the programme. Four logistic regression models were performed concerning antidepressant prescription in the follow-up. Results. Only antidepressants were prescribed in relevant numbers. The prescription of antidepressants was not related to the programme. (P-value of experimental versus control group varied between 0.18 and 0.85 in the four models). The most important predictor of antidepressant prescription in follow-up was baseline antidepressant prescription [odds ratio (OR): 67.2; 95% confidence interval (95% CI): 49.8-90.7]. Subjects, of whom the prescription of benzodiazepines had been discontinued completely, had been prescribed less antidepressants (OR: 0.8; 95% CI: 0.6-1.0). Conclusion. An effective benzodiazepine reduction programme was not accompanied by a substitute use of other psychotropics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)504-510
Number of pages7
JournalFamily Practice
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007

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