Psychotropic medication and insomnia complaints in two epidemiological studies

Can J Psychiatry. 1996 Sep;41(7):457-64. doi: 10.1177/070674379604100711.


Objective: This study compared prescribed psychotropic medication patterns for reported sleep disorders in French and Quebec samples.

Method: The first study was undertaken in France (N = 5622) and the second in the metropolitan area of Montreal (N = 1722). Lay interviewers used a specialized knowledge-based system for the purpose of evaluating sleep disorders by telephone.

Results: Results showed similar prevalence of insomnia complaints in both samples (20.1% and 17.8%, respectively). A higher level of psychotropic consumption was found in France (11.7% [95% confidence interval (CI), 10.9 to 12.5]) compared with Quebec, however, where consumption was less than half the French rate (5.5% [95% CI, 4.4 to 6.6]). Both studies identified females and the elderly as the primary consumers of these drugs. For approximately two-thirds of both samples, sleep-promoting medications were prescribed for a year or longer, revealing a chronicity of the consumption. Approximately 4 out of 5 prescriptions for sleeping medications were ordered by general practitioners in both samples.

Conclusion: These findings clearly show a higher prevalence of psychotropic drug use in the French compared with the Quebec population. The patterns of consumption and prescription, however, are quite similar in both studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Drug Utilization
  • Family Practice / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / adverse effects
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / therapeutic use
  • Long-Term Care
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Care Team / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychotropic Drugs / adverse effects
  • Psychotropic Drugs / therapeutic use*
  • Quebec / epidemiology
  • Sampling Studies
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / psychology


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Psychotropic Drugs