Benzodiazepine Taper Guidelines for Older Adults in an Inpatient Geiatric/Psychiatric Unit
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractBenzodiazepine dependence is a significant national problem. Although benzodiazepines — a class of drugs that includes drugs such as alprazolam, lorazepam, temazepam, clonazepam, and diazepam—have a wide range of uses including the treatment of insomnia, anxiety, and seizures; they are addictive. Individuals taking these drugs can quickly develop dangerous tolerances. Therefore, these drugs should not be selected as first choice nor used for more than short periods, yet a significant portion of the population uses benzodiazepines for long periods. This problem is significantly more pronounced in the elderly, a population that scholars have agreed should not use these drugs outside of extreme circumstances. Because benzodiazepines may be wrongfully perceived as an easy treatment for so many common afflictions, providers continue to prescribe them, and patients may be reluctant to discontinue use due to the symptoms associated with withdrawal (i.e., insomnia and anxiety). To avoid these symptoms, the standard discontinuation approach seen in an outpatient setting is a long-term taper that may take eight to 12 weeks of gradual reduction. However, in an inpatient setting, this long-term approach is unfeasible due to the short length of patient stays. The literature has given little consideration to this problem. Thus, it was necessary to review evidence and develop a guideline for benzodiazepine tapering in elderly patients receiving inpatient psychiatric care. The purpose of this project was to develop a guideline to taper benzodiazepines in the elderly using the Johns Hopkins Nursing Evidence-Based Practice Model (JHNEBP). The guideline was validated by expert peer reviewers using the AGREE II instrument. The completed guidelines offer recommendations on the tapering of benzodiazepines in an inpatient geropsych unit and best practices for interventions to increase the success rate of discontinuation.
Degree ProgramGraduate College