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The benzodiazepine problem in primary care: the seriousness and solutions

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Objective To audit the practice of benzodiazepine prescribing in Primary Care, and to provide implementable solutions to this problem.

Method Two primary care practices within the South Birmingham Primary Care Trust with a combined load of approximately 32 000 patients were recruited. Those receiving benzodiazepine prescription were identified and data was analysed. Ethical approval was sought in advance from The Student Project Sub-Committee of the South Birmingham Research Ethics Committee.

Results Patients on benzodiazepines were identified (241), with 58 selected for the study. Prevalence of benzodiazepine prescription was 0.75%. Females predominated with 60.3%, compared to 39.7% males. Mean age 64.34 years (STD 18.9). Reasons for prescription: depression (31%), insomnia (29.6%) and anxiety (17.2%). Time on benzodiazepine ranged from 3 to 380 months. 8.6% were informed on non-pharmacological therapies prior to treatment initiation. 36.2% were informed of risks of dependence, with an additional 36.2% advised to reduce their dose of benzodiazepines on review, which occurred three monthly in 82.8% of patients.

Conclusion Care of patients receiving benzodiazepines falls short of ideal practice, as reflected in the results of this audit. We recommend further education of healthcare professionals to identify and eradicate this problem.


Document Type: Miscellaneous

Publication date: December 1, 2005

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