BACKGROUND: In France, general practitioners (GPs) prescribe benzodiazepines and Z-drugs (BZD/ZDs) widely, and especially to older adults. Several characteristics of patients and/or GPs linked to BZD/ZD overprescription have been described in the general population but not among older patients in primary care.
OBJECTIVES: To estimate the proportion of GP consultations by patients aged 65 and over that resulted in a BZD/ZD prescription, and determine whether any GP-related factors predicted BZD/ZD overprescription in this setting.
METHODS: We analyzed sociodemographic and practice-related GP characteristics, and aggregated data on consultations recorded prospectively by 117 GPs in a database between 2000 and 2010. Next, we used logistic regression models to look for factors potentially associated with BZD/ZD overprescription (defined as an above-median prescription rate).
RESULTS: The GPs' mean age at inclusion was 47.4 (7.1), and 87.9% were male. During the study period, the median (95% confidence interval) proportion of consultations with patients aged 65 and over resulting in a BZD/ZD prescription was 21.8% (18.1-26.1) (range per GP: 5-34.1%). In a multivariable analysis, a greater number of chronic disease (OR [95% CI] = 2.10 [1.22-3.64]), a greater number of drugs prescribed per consultation (5.29 [2.72-10.28]), and shorter study participation were independently associated with BZD/ZD overprescription.
CONCLUSIONS: BZD/ZD overprescription was associated with a greater chronic disease burden and the number of drugs prescribed per consultation but not with any sociodemographic or practice-related GP characteristics. Targeted actions are needed to help GPs limit their prescription of BZD/ZDs to older patients with multiple comorbidities and polypharmacy.