Aims: Chronic benzodiazepine use is highly prevalent and is associated with a variety of negative health consequences. The present study examined the long-term effectiveness of a tailored patient education intervention on benzodiazepine use.
Design: A randomized controlled trial was conducted comprising three arms, comparing (i) a single tailored intervention; (ii) a multiple tailored intervention and (iii) a general practitioner letter. The post-test took place after 12 months.
Participants: Five hundred and eight patients using benzodiazepines were recruited by their general practitioners and assigned randomly to one of the three groups.
Intervention: Two tailored interventions, the single tailored intervention (patients received one tailored letter) and the multiple tailored intervention (patients received three sequential tailored letters at intervals of 1 month), were compared to a short general practitioner letter that modelled usual care. The tailored interventions not only provided different and more information than the general practitioner letter; they were also personalized and adapted to individual baseline characteristics. The information in both tailored interventions was the same, but in the multiple tailored intervention the information was provided to the participants spread over three occasions. In the multiple tailored intervention, the second and the third tailored letters were based on short and standardized telephone interviews.
Measurements: Benzodiazepine cessation at post-test was the outcome measure.
Findings: The results showed that participants receiving the tailored interventions were twice as likely to have quit benzodiazepine use compared to the general practitioner letter. Particularly among participants with the intention to discontinue usage at baseline, both tailored interventions led to high percentages of those who actually discontinued usage (single tailored intervention 51.7%; multiple tailored intervention 35.6%; general practitioner letter 14.5%).
Conclusions: It was concluded that tailored patient education can be an effective tool for reducing benzodiazepine use, and can be implemented easily.