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Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2012 Feb;47(2):293-301. doi: 10.1007/s00127-011-0344-1. Epub 2011 Jan 23.

Ten-year trends in benzodiazepine use in the Dutch population.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry of the VU Medical Centre, The Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine (EMGO) of the Vrije Universiteit Medical Centre, Valeriusplein 14, 1075 BH, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



In the past decades knowledge on adequate treatment of affective disorders and awareness of the negative consequences of long-term benzodiazepine use increased. Therefore, a decrease in benzodiazepine use is expected, particularly in prolonged use. The aim of this study was to assess time trends in benzodiazepine use.


Data from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA) were used to investigate trends in benzodiazepine use between 1992 and 2002 in two population-based samples aged 55-64 years. Differences between the two samples with respect to benzodiazepine use and to sociodemographic, physical health and mental health characteristics were described and tested with chi-square tests and logistic regression analyses.


Benzodiazepine use remained stable over 10 years, with 7.8% in LASA-1 (n = 874) and 7.9% in LASA-2 (n = 919) (p = 0.90) with a persisting preponderance in women and in people with low education, low income, chronic physical diseases, functional limitations, cognitive impairment, depression, anxiety complaints, sleep problems and when using antidepressants. Long-term use remained high with 70% in 1992 and 80% in 2002 of total benzodiazepine use.


In the Dutch population aged 55-64, overall benzodiazepine use remained stable from 1992 to 2002, with a high proportion of long-term users, despite the effort to reduce benzodiazepine use and the renewal of the guidelines. More effort should be made to decrease prolonged benzodiazepine use in this middle-aged group, because of the increasing risks with ageing.

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