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Pain Med. 2018 Sep 10. doi: 10.1093/pm/pny179. [Epub ahead of print]

Correlates of Benzodiazepine Use and Adverse Outcomes Among Patients with Chronic Pain Prescribed Long-term Opioid Therapy.

Author information

Kaiser Permanente Northwest Center for Health Research, Portland, Oregon.
Center to Improve Veteran Involvement in Care, VA Portland Health Care System, Portland, Oregon.
Department of Psychiatry, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon.
Departments of Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, and the Oregon Institute for Occupational Health Sciences, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon, USA.



To examine the correlates and odds of receiving overlapping benzodiazepine and opioid prescriptions and whether co-prescription was associated with greater odds of falling or visiting the emergency department.


Cross-sectional study.


A large private integrated health system and a Veterans Health Administration integrated health system.


Five hundred seventeen adults with musculoskeletal pain and current prescriptions for long-term opioid therapy.


A multivariate logistic regression model examined correlates of having overlapping benzodiazepine and opioid prescriptions in the year before enrollment in the cross-sectional study. Negative binomial models analyzed the number of falls in the past three months and past-year emergency department visits. In addition to propensity score adjustment, models controlled for demographic characteristics, psychiatric diagnoses, medications, overall comorbidity score, and opioid morphine equivalent dose.


Twenty-five percent (N = 127) of participants had co-occurring benzodiazepine and opioid prescriptions in the prior year. Odds of receiving a benzodiazepine prescription were significantly higher among patients with the following psychiatric diagnoses: anxiety disorder (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 4.71, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.67-8.32, P < 0.001), post-traumatic stress disorder (AOR = 2.24, 95% CI = 1.14-4.38, P = 0.019), and bipolar disorder (AOR = 3.82, 95% CI = 1.49-9.81, P = 0.005). Past-year overlapping benzodiazepine and opioid prescriptions were associated with adverse outcomes, including a greater number of falls (risk ratio [RR] = 3.27, 95% CI = 1.77-6.02, P = 0.001) and emergency department visits (RR = 1.66, 95% CI = 1.08-2.53, P = 0.0194).


Among patients with chronic pain prescribed long-term opioid therapy, one-quarter of patients had co-occurring prescriptions for benzodiazepines, and dual use was associated with increased odds of falls and emergency department visits.


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