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      Deprescribing benzodiazepines and Z-drugs in community-dwelling adults: a scoping review

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          Long-term sedative use is prevalent and associated with significant morbidity, including adverse events such as falls, cognitive impairment, and sedation. The development of dependence can pose significant challenges when discontinuation is attempted as withdrawal symptoms often develop. We conducted a scoping review to map and characterize the literature and determine opportunities for future research regarding deprescribing strategies for long-term benzodiazepine and Z-drug (zopiclone, zolpidem, and zaleplon) use in community-dwelling adults.


          We searched PubMed, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, TRIP, and JBI Ovid databases and conducted a grey literature search. Articles discussing methods for deprescribing benzodiazepines or Z-drugs in community-dwelling adults were selected.


          Following removal of duplicates, 2797 articles were reviewed for eligibility. Of these, 367 were retrieved for full-text assessment and 139 were subsequently included for review. Seventy-four (53 %) articles were original research, predominantly randomized controlled trials (n = 52 [37 %]), whereas 58 (42 %) were narrative reviews and seven (5 %) were guidelines. Amongst original studies, pharmacologic strategies were the most commonly studied intervention (n = 42 [57 %]). Additional deprescribing strategies included psychological therapies (n = 10 [14 %]), mixed interventions (n = 12 [16 %]), and others (n = 10 [14 %]). Behaviour change interventions were commonly combined and included enablement (n = 56 [76 %]), education (n = 36 [47 %]), and training (n = 29 [39 %]). Gradual dose reduction was frequently a component of studies, reviews, and guidelines, but methods varied widely.


          Approaches proposed for deprescribing benzodiazepines and Z-drugs are numerous and heterogeneous. Current research in this area using methods such as randomized trials and meta-analyses may too narrowly encompass potential strategies available to target this phenomenon. Realist synthesis methods would be well suited to understand the mechanisms by which deprescribing interventions work and why they fail.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s40360-015-0019-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references 176

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          Better reporting of interventions: template for intervention description and replication (TIDieR) checklist and guide.

          Without a complete published description of interventions, clinicians and patients cannot reliably implement interventions that are shown to be useful, and other researchers cannot replicate or build on research findings. The quality of description of interventions in publications, however, is remarkably poor. To improve the completeness of reporting, and ultimately the replicability, of interventions, an international group of experts and stakeholders developed the Template for Intervention Description and Replication (TIDieR) checklist and guide. The process involved a literature review for relevant checklists and research, a Delphi survey of an international panel of experts to guide item selection, and a face to face panel meeting. The resultant 12 item TIDieR checklist (brief name, why, what (materials), what (procedure), who provided, how, where, when and how much, tailoring, modifications, how well (planned), how well (actual)) is an extension of the CONSORT 2010 statement (item 5) and the SPIRIT 2013 statement (item 11). While the emphasis of the checklist is on trials, the guidance is intended to apply across all evaluative study designs. This paper presents the TIDieR checklist and guide, with an explanation and elaboration for each item, and examples of good reporting. The TIDieR checklist and guide should improve the reporting of interventions and make it easier for authors to structure accounts of their interventions, reviewers and editors to assess the descriptions, and readers to use the information.
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            Sedative hypnotics in older people with insomnia: meta-analysis of risks and benefits.

            To quantify and compare potential benefits (subjective reports of sleep variables) and risks (adverse events and morning-after psychomotor impairment) of short term treatment with sedative hypnotics in older people with insomnia. Medline, Embase, the Cochrane clinical trials database, PubMed, and PsychLit, 1966 to 2003; bibliographies of published reviews and meta-analyses; manufacturers of newer sedative hypnotics (zaleplon, zolpidem, zopiclone) regarding unpublished studies. Randomised controlled trials of any pharmacological treatment for insomnia for at least five consecutive nights in people aged 60 or over with insomnia and otherwise free of psychiatric or psychological disorders. 24 studies (involving 2417 participants) with extractable data met inclusion and exclusion criteria. Sleep quality improved (effect size 0.14, P 0.05), and reports of daytime fatigue were 3.82 times more common (1.88 to 7.80, P < 0.001) in people using any sedative compared with placebo. Improvements in sleep with sedative use are statistically significant, but the magnitude of effect is small. The increased risk of adverse events is statistically significant and potentially clinically relevant in older people at risk of falls and cognitive impairment. In people over 60, the benefits of these drugs may not justify the increased risk, particularly if the patient has additional risk factors for cognitive or psychomotor adverse events.
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              Patient barriers to and enablers of deprescribing: a systematic review.

              Inappropriate medication use is common in the elderly and the risks associated with their use are well known. The term deprescribing has been utilised to describe the complex process that is required for the safe and effective cessation of inappropriate medications. Given the primacy of the consumer in health care, their views must be central in the development of any deprescribing process. The aim of this study was to identify barriers and enablers that may influence a patient's decision to cease a medication. A systematic search of MEDLINE, International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, EMBASE, CINAHL, Informit and Scopus was conducted and augmented with a manual search. Numerous search terms relating to withdrawal of medications and consumers' beliefs were utilised. Articles were included if the barriers or enablers were directly patient/carer reported and related to long-term medication(s) that they were currently taking or had recently ceased. Determination of relevance and data extraction was performed independently by two reviewers. Content analysis with coding was utilised for synthesis of results. Twenty-one articles met the criteria and were included in the review. Three themes, disagreement/agreement with 'appropriateness' of cessation, absence/presence of a 'process' for cessation, and negative/positive 'influences' to cease medication, were identified as both potential barriers and enablers, with 'fear' of cessation and 'dislike' of medications as a fourth barrier and enabler, respectively. The most common barrier/enabler identified was 'appropriateness' of cessation, with 15 studies identifying this as a barrier and 18 as an enabler. The decision to stop a medication by an individual is influenced by multiple competing barriers and enablers. Knowledge of these will aid in the development of a deprescribing process, particularly in approaching the topic of cessation with the patient and what process should be utilised. However, further research is required to determine if the proposed patient-centred deprescribing process will result in improved patient outcomes.

                Author and article information

                BMC Pharmacol Toxicol
                BMC Pharmacol Toxicol
                BMC Pharmacology & Toxicology
                BioMed Central (London )
                4 July 2015
                4 July 2015
                : 16
                [ ]Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Mail Box #259, 5849 University Avenue, Room C-125, PO Box 15000, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2 Canada
                [ ]College of Pharmacy and Department of Psychiatry, Dalhousie University, 5968 College St, PO Box 15000, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2 Canada
                [ ]Department of Psychiatry and College of Pharmacy, Dalhousie University, QEII HSC, AJLB 7517, 5909 Veterans’ Memorial Lane, Halifax, NS B3H 2E2 Canada
                © Pollmann et al. 2015

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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