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Rev Epidemiol Sante Publique. 2003 Jun;51(3):317-26.

[Benzodiazepine use in the elderly: the EVA Study].

[Article in French]

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Département de Pharmacologie Clinique, Université Victor-Segalen-Bordeaux 2, 146, rue Léo-Saignat, 33076 Bordeaux Cedex.



The objectives of this study were to describe the use of benzodiazepines in the elderly and to identify socio-demographic and medical factors associated with this use.


Data on the use of sedative and sleeping drugs were collected from a self-reported questionnaire, in a sample of 1265 elderly subjects (aged 60 to 70 years) interviewed at the first follow-up examination of the EVA Study (Epidemiology of Vascular Aging Study).


Use of sedative or sleeping drugs was reported by 28.7% of the participants and use of benzodiazepines by 23%. Most of the benzodiazepines used (71%) had anxiolytic indications, 48% were long-acting compounds (elimination half-life>=20 h.). Among benzodiazepine users, 71% reported using benzodiazepines daily and 77% reported they had been taking benzodiazepines for at least 2 years. Nearly two third of the benzodiazepine users reported taking their medications as prescribed. When they were not compliant, they took benzodiazepines less often and/or at slighter doses than prescribed. Use of benzodiazepines was associated with symptoms of depression or anxiety (women: odds-ratio=2.6 [1.7-4.1]; men: odds-ratio=4.4 [2.4-7.8]) and with regular use of at least three non-psychotropic drugs (women: odds-ratio=2.0 [1.4-2.9]; men: odds-ratio=1.8 [1.1-3.1]). Women with a high educational level or with moderate alcohol consumption were less likely to take benzodiazepines; these associations were not found in men.


The present study shows that benzodiazepines are the sedative and sleeping drugs most widely used by the elderly. Nearly three quarters of benzodiazepine users were chronic users.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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