Benzodiazepine and z-hypnotic use in Norwegian elderly, aged 65-79

  • C. Ineke Neutel
  • Svetlana Skurtveit
  • Christian Berg


Purpose: Benzodiazepines/z-hypnotics (BZD-Z) guidelines suggest that elderly people ought to use anxiolytic benzodiazepines (BZD) and z-hypnotics only at low dose and only for a short time, and that hypnotic BZD not should be used at all. Since the elderly aged 65-79 tend to be recently retired but still in relatively good health, they may have different needs for BZD-Z than those older or younger. Our objective is to examine BZD-Z use in this age group.

Methods: The study population consisted of Norwegians, aged 65-79, who filled prescriptions for anxiolytic BZD, hypnotic BZD and/or z-hypnotics in 2004-2009. The quantities prescribed were in daily defined doses (DDD), and 100 DDD/year was deemed excessive.

Results: More than a quarter of the population received at least one BZD-Z prescription each year. Half of those received more than 100 DDD/year and a quarter received over 250 DDD/year, with these proportions increasing year by year. All three subgroups of BZD-Z showed increasing use with age and all except anxiolytic BZD showed increasing proportions of users using more than 100 DDD/year with age.

Conclusions: Substantial numbers of elderly aged 65-79 receive prescriptions for BZD-Z, more with increasing age, and greater amounts per user. Guidelines are clearly ignored. While a rigid enforcement of guidelines/rules is not the answer, allowing the status quo to continue shows lack of respect for guidelines.


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How to Cite
Neutel, C. I., Skurtveit, S., & Berg, C. (2012). Benzodiazepine and z-hypnotic use in Norwegian elderly, aged 65-79. Norsk Epidemiologi, 22(2).