Doctors with beliefs about long-term harms of benzodiazepine are less likely to prescribe it

American Academy of Family Physicians

Despite the continuing growth of benzodiazepine (BZD)-related overdoses, BZD prescription rates have held constant. Much is unknown about how a doctor’s own beliefs about BZD use and potential harm to patients might influence their willingness to prescribe the drug. Using a Medicare database, researchers identified primary care providers who had prescribed a BZD in 2017 and surveyed a random sample of 100 doctors on their attitudes around BZD prescribing. Approximately 62% of clinician respondents reported that they disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement, “If a patient has been prescribed a benzodiazepine for years, the potential harms from continuing the benzodiazepine are low,” while 18.0% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement. When clinicians believed that the potential harms from continuing BZDs were low for patients on long-term treatment, they were more likely to prescribe a BZD to patients for whom they cared.

Linking a Survey of Clinician Benzodiazepine-related Beliefs to Risk of Benzodiazepine Prescription Fills Among Patients in Medicare

Donovan T. Maust, M.D., MS, et al

Department of Psychiatry and Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, University of Michigan, and Center for Clinical Management Research, VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, Ann Arbor, Michigan

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