Introduction: Previous quantitative research showed large variations in prescribing volume and prescribing patterns of benzodiazepines among Slovenian family physicians. We performed a qualitative interview study to investigate how high-prescribing family physicians explain their own prescription.
Methods: Five family physicians with benzodiazepine prescriptions in volumes larger than 4000 defined daily doses per month and five who prescribed volumes smaller than 2000 defined daily doses per month, selected randomly from the representative sample of Slovenian family physicians, were interviewed. Physicians' self-explanations about their daily decisions regarding benzodiazepine prescribing, patients' and practice characteristics and their attitudes towards patients were analysed.
Results: Family physicians were reporting about patients' needs and their demands, co-morbidity of older patients, previous good experience with benzodiazepines, concerns about decreasing dosage or discontinuation of benzodiazepines, high workload and time constraints, limited access to mental health workers and insufficient education and training.
Conclusion: Family physicians consider the task of initiating, withdrawing or reducing benzodiazepines as demanding due to complexity of psychosocial problems, co-morbidity, workload, time-consumingness, need to master counselling skills, demands of their patients, particularly the long-term ones and due to low access to mental health services. The majority of family physicians agreed with restrictions in their prescription based on the guidelines.