Original Research

Long-term benzodiazepine prescriptions in community psychiatry clinics

Machipi A. Tau, Mohamed Y.H. Moosa, Fatima Y. Jeenah
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 30 | a2181 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v30i0.2181 | © 2024 Machipi A. Tau, Mohamed Y.H. Moosa, Fatima Y. Jeenah | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 September 2023 | Published: 03 May 2024

About the author(s)

Machipi A. Tau, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Mohamed Y.H. Moosa, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Fatima Y. Jeenah, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Anecdotal evidence indicates that the prevalence of long-term benzodiazepine prescription is high and not in accordance with accepted prescribing guidelines.

Aim: To determine the prevalence of long-term prescriptions of benzodiazepines and associations thereof in community psychiatry clinics.

Setting: Of the 27 community psychiatry clinics, 5 were randomly selected.

Methods: A descriptive, retrospective, and cross-sectional record review of files of 126 adult patients was conducted, to obtain sociodemographic and clinical characteristics. Descriptive statistics were presented as proportions and percentages. Fisher’s exact test was used to determine any associations between long-term benzodiazepines use and demographic and clinical variables. Regression analyses were performed to determine the significance of any such associations.

Results: Approximately one out of every four patients were prescribed benzodiazepines. Most of the patients were males aged between 18 and 50 years, single and unemployed. The most common psychiatric diagnoses were bipolar disorders and psychotic disorders, and the majority had no comorbid medical illnesses or substance use. Ninety-three per cent of the patients were prescribed long-term (more than 180 days) benzodiazepines. There were no statistically significant associations between prescribing patterns and any sociodemographic and clinical characteristics (p > 0.05).

Conclusion: This study found that nearly all the benzodiazepine prescriptions were long-term (over 180 days) and no statistically significant associations between this practice and any sociodemographic and clinical characteristics could be established.

Contribution: There is high prevalence rate of long-term benzodiazepine prescription in community psychiatry clinics, and as such clinical monitoring systems need to be established and enforced.


Keywords

long-term; benzodiazepines; prescriptions; community psychiatry; diagnosis; comorbidities.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

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