Care of the Elderly Resources

Search Knowledge Base by Keyword

Interventions for reducing benzodiazepine use in older people: meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

You are here:
< Back

Download: Full Article

Gould RL1, Coulson MC, Patel N, Highton-Williamson E, Howard RJ.



The use of benzodiazepines has been advised against in older people, but prevalence rates remain high.


To review the evidence for interventions aimed at reducing benzodiazepine use in older people.


We conducted a systematic review, assessment of risk of bias and meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials of benzodiazepine withdrawal and prescribing interventions.


Ten withdrawal and eight prescribing studies met the inclusion criteria. At post-intervention, significantly higher odds of not using benzodiazepines were found with supervised withdrawal with psychotherapy (odds ratio (OR) = 5.06, 95% CI 2.68-9.57, P<0.00001) and withdrawal with prescribing interventions (OR = 1.43, 95% CI 1.02-2.02, P = 0.04) in comparison with the control interventions treatment as usual (TAU), education placebo, withdrawal with or without drug placebo, or psychotherapy alone. Significantly higher odds of not using benzodiazepines were also found for multifaceted prescribing interventions (OR = 1.37, 95% CI 1.10-1.72, P = 0.006) in comparison with control interventions (TAU and prescribing placebo).


Supervised benzodiazepine withdrawal augmented with psychotherapy should be considered in older people, although pragmatic reasons may necessitate consideration of other strategies such as medication review.

Resource: Br J Psychiatry. 2014 Feb;204(2):98-107.