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Hospital initiation of benzodiazepines and Z-drugs in older adults and discontinuation in primary care

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-08-20, 09:11 authored by Sean Coll, Mary E Walsh, Tom FaheyTom Fahey, Frank MoriartyFrank Moriarty

Objective: To examine factors associated with continuation of hospital-initiated benzodiazepine receptor agonists (BZRAs) among adults aged ≥65 years, specifically instructions on hospital discharge summaries.

Methods: This retrospective cohort study involved anonymised electronic record data on prescribing and hospitalisations for 38,229 patients aged ≥65 from forty-four GP practices in Ireland 2011-2016. BZRA initiations were identified among patients with no BZRA prescription in the previous 12 months. Multivariate regression examined whether instructions on discharge messages for hospital-initiated BZRA prescriptions was associated with continuation after discharge in primary care and time to discontinuation.

Results: In total, 418 hospital-initiated BZRAs were identified, 48.8% being to males and mean patient age was 79.0 (SD 8.3) years. Almost 60% of these discharge summarieshad some BZRA instructions (e.g. duration). Approximately 40% (n = 166) were continued in primary care. Lower age, being prescribed a Z-drug or great number of medicines were associated with higher risk of continuation. Of those continued in primary care, in 98 cases (59.6%) the BZRA was discontinued during follow-up (after a mean 184 days). Presence of instructions was associated with higher likelihood of discontinuation (hazard ratio 1.71, 95%CI 1.11-2.62).

Conclusions: Improved communication to GPs after hospital discharge may be important in avoiding long-term BZRA use.


Health Research Board (HRB) through the HRB Centre for Primary Care Research (grant no. HRC/2014/01)



The original article is available at Pre-print is available on medRxiv, and RCSI repository

Published Citation

Coll S, Walsh ME, Fahey T, Moriarty F. Hospital initiation of benzodiazepines and Z-drugs in older adults and discontinuation in primary care. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2021:S1551-7411(21)00203-5.

Publication Date

5 June 2021

PubMed ID



  • General Practice
  • HRB Centre for Primary Care Research
  • School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences

Research Area

  • Population Health and Health Services


Elsevier BV


  • Published Version (Version of Record)