Achieving a sustained reduction in benzodiazepine use through implementation of an area-wide multi-strategic approach

J Clin Pharm Ther. 2005 Oct;30(5):425-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2710.2005.00674.x.


Objective: This study aimed to evaluate the impact, in a regional setting, of a multi-strategic partnership approach for reducing benzodiazepine use in the management of insomnia, as recommended in Australia's National Policy on Quality Use of Medicines.

Method: The setting was a rural region of South Australia, covering approximately 2000 km2, with a population of over 20 000. The study involved participatory action research, with qualitative and quantitative evaluations. The intervention involved a multi-strategic approach, including provision of treatment guidelines, provision of consumer information, a local media campaign and education and training of health professionals. The quantitative evaluation involved a single region before/after study with 2 years of follow-up using pharmacy-based dispensing data for benzodiazepines and antidepressants, gathered for the months of November to April in 1998/99 ('before' period) through to 2000/01 ('after' period). The data were analysed using non-parametric statistics.

Results: There was a 19% reduction in benzodiazepine dispensing 2 years after the intervention compared with a 6% reduction nationally. Dispensing of antidepressants increased by 33%, compared with a 28% increase nationally.

Conclusion: It was concluded that the multi-strategic approach to the management of sleep disorders proved successful in promoting the use of non-drug alternatives, achieving sustained reduction in benzodiazepine consumption in a rural community, without therapeutic substitution of antidepressants.

Implications: The study demonstrated that a sustainable reduction in prescribing of benzodiazepines can be achieved through the implementation of a multi-strategic approach involving local consumers, health professionals, a Division of General Practice, a government department, aged-care facilities and the local media.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Benzodiazepines / adverse effects*
  • Benzodiazepines / therapeutic use
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Community Participation
  • Community Pharmacy Services
  • Drug Utilization
  • Homes for the Aged
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / adverse effects*
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / therapeutic use
  • Pharmacists
  • Public Policy
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / drug therapy*
  • South Australia


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Benzodiazepines