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HSR&D Citation Abstract

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Gerlach LB, Strominger J, Kim HM, Maust DT. Discontinuation of Chronic Benzodiazepine Use Among Adults in the United States. Journal of general internal medicine. 2019 Sep 1; 34(9):1833-1840.
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Abstract: BACKGROUND: Guidelines recommend most benzodiazepine (BZD) treatment be short-term, though chronic BZD use is increasing. OBJECTIVE: Determine the rate of BZD discontinuation among chronic users and identify patient- and provider-level factors associated with discontinuation. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: A retrospective cohort study using nationwide insurance claims data from 2014 to 2016 of US adults = 18 years old with chronic BZD use (i.e., > 120 days) during the baseline year. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The primary outcome was BZD discontinuation among chronic users after 1 year of follow-up. A series of multilevel logistic regression models examined the association of BZD discontinuation with patient and provider characteristics. Covariates included patient sociodemographics, medical and psychiatric comorbidity, co-prescribed opioids and other psychotropics, and characteristics of the prescribed BZD. KEY RESULTS: Of 141,008 chronic BZD users, 13.4% discontinued use after 1 year. Females had lower odds of discontinuation (AOR 0.83, 99% CI 0.79-0.87), while African-American patients had higher odds (AOR 1.12, 99% CI 1.03-1.22). Those prescribed a high-potency BZD had lower odds of discontinuation (AOR 0.51, 99% CI 0.47-0.54), as did those prescribed an opioid (AOR 0.94, 99% CI 0.89-0.99). After adjusting for patient- and provider-level factors, differences between providers accounted for 5.8% of variation in BZD discontinuation (p? < 0.001). The median odds ratio for provider was 1.54, an association with discontinuation larger than almost all patient-level clinical variables. CONCLUSIONS: A small minority of patients prescribed chronic BZD in a given year are no longer prescribed BZDs 1 year later. There is significant variation in the likelihood of discontinuation accounted for by non-clinical factors such as race, geography, and a patient's provider, which had a stronger association with the odds of discontinuation than almost every other patient-level variable. Provider-facing elements of interventions to reduce BZD prescribing may be critical.

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