Benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepine hypnotics - impact of a cluster adopted protocol on primary care prescribing

Christopher J. Weatherburn (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background and Aims: Reduction of benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepine hypnotics (BZDs and Z-drugs) prescribing is a priority. Dundee, Scotland, has a total of 25 general practices, split into four clusters. The cluster with the highest recorded prescribing of BZDs and Z-drugs adopted a prescribing protocol that aimed to reduce such prescribing. This paper evaluates the impact of this protocol.

Methods: Quarterly prescribing data were obtained from Information Service Division, NHS Scotland from Q1 2015/16 to Q4 2017/18. Data were split into four clusters and standardised to Defined Daily Dose (DDDs) per 1000 registered patients. Interrupted time series (ITS) analysis was performed to assess prescribing one year after this protocol was introduced.

Results: There was a crude reduction in prescribing of BZDs and Z-drugs across all GP practice clusters, but this related to an ongoing downward trend in prescribing. Allowing for this, in the cluster that adopted the protocol, ITS revealed there was no significant reduction attributable to the intervention in prescribing of DDD equivalent doses (-0.4%, 95% CI: -7.2 to 7.6).

Conclusions: Introduction of a cluster-wide prescribing protocol did not provide significant reduction of prescribing. Although crude figures might suggest an improvement, ITS analysis revealed this not to be the case.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-102
Number of pages6
JournalScottish Medical Journal
Issue number3
Early online date12 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019


  • Diazepam
  • benzodiazepines
  • interrupted time series analysis
  • prescriptions
  • primary health care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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