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Noncancer Pain Patients Commonly Use Benzodiazepines

High prevalence of benzodiazepine use is inconsistent with guidelines

MONDAY, Feb. 23, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Chronic noncancer pain (CNCP) patients who use benzodiazepines (BZDs) daily frequently have multiple comorbid mental health conditions and higher rates of emergency health care use, according to a study published in the February issue of Pain Medicine.

Suzanne Nielsen, Ph.D., from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in Sydney, and colleagues used a national sample of 1,220 CNCP patients prescribed long-term opioids. The authors sought to determine baseline data on BZD use patterns as well as ties to comorbidities and health service utilization.

The researchers found that one-third of participants reported BZD use in the past month, while 17 percent reported daily BZD use. Greater pain severity; being prescribed “higher-risk” (>200 mg oral morphine equivalent) doses of opioids; using antidepressant and/or antipsychotic medications; substance use; and greater mental health comorbidity were all associated with BZD use. BZD use was independently associated with greater past-month use of emergency health care, after controlling for other factors.

“The high prevalence of BZD use is inconsistent with guidelines for the management of CNCP or chronic mental health conditions,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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