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Olfson M, King M, Schoenbaum M. 
“Benzodiazepine use in the United States”. 
JAMA Psychiatry. 2015 Feb 24;72(2):136-42.
IMPORTANCE: Although concern exists regarding the rate of benzodiazepine use, especially long-term use by older adults, little information is available concerning patterns of benzodiazepine use in the United States.

To describe benzodiazepine prescription patterns in the United States focusing on patient age and duration of use.


PARTICIPANTS:A retrospective descriptive analysis of benzodiazepine prescriptions was performed with the 2008 LifeLink LRx Longitudinal Prescription database (IMS Health Inc), which includes approximately 60 of all retail pharmacies in the United States. Denominators were adjusted to generalize estimates to the US population.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The percentage of adults filling 1 or more benzodiazepine prescriptions during the study year by sex and age group (18-35 years, 36-50 years, 51-64 years, and 65-80 years) and among individuals receiving benzodiazepines, the corresponding percentages with long-term (≥120 days) benzodiazepine use, prescription of a long-acting benzodiazepine, and benzodiazepine prescriptions from a psychiatrist.

RESULTS: In 2008, approximately 5.2 of US adults aged 18 to 80 years used benzodiazepines. The percentage who used benzodiazepines increased with age from 2.6 (18-35 years) to 5.4 (36-50 years) to 7.4 (51-64 years) to 8.7 (65-80 years). Benzodiazepine use was nearly twice as prevalent in women as men. The proportion of benzodiazepine use that was long term increased with age from 14.7 (18-35 years) to 31.4 (65-80 years), while the proportion that received a benzodiazepine prescription from a psychiatrist decreased with age from 15.0 (18-35 years) to 5.7 (65-80 years). In all age groups, roughly one-quarter of individuals receiving benzodiazepine involved long-acting benzodiazepine use.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Despite cautions concerning risks associated with long-term benzodiazepine use, especially in older patients, long-term benzodiazepine use remains common in this age group. More vigorous clinical interventions supporting judicious benzodiazepine use may be needed to decrease rates of long-term benzodiazepine use in older adults.
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