Trends and variation in benzodiazepine use in nursing homes in the USA

Loannis Malagaris, Hemalkumar B. Mehta, James S. Goodwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: Because of toxicities, benzodiazepines are not usually recommended in older adults. We therefore sought to describe the trends in benzodiazepine use in long-term care and examine the variation in benzodiazepine use among nursing homes. Methods: In this retrospective repeated cross-sectional analysis of Medicare Parts A, B, and D claims data linked to the Minimum Data Set from 2013 to 2018, we included long-term residents who stayed in a nursing home for at least one entire quarter of a calendar year in 2013–2018. The outcome was whether residents were prescribed a benzodiazepine drug for at least 30 days during each quarter stay. We use mixed effects logistic regression models to assess the variation in benzodiazepine use among nursing homes, adjusting for patient and nursing home characteristics. Results: The cohort for the time trend analysis included 270,566 unique residents and 1,843,580 quarter stays for 2013–2018. Prescribing rates for short-acting benzodiazepines were stable over 2013–2016, then declined from 12.1% in 2016 to 10.6% in 2018. The rate of long-acting benzodiazepine use remained relatively steady at around 4% over 2013–2018. During 2017–2018, the variation among nursing homes in benzodiazepine use was 7.2% for short-acting vs. 9.3% for long-acting benzodiazepines, after controlling for resident characteristics. Conclusion: Prescribing for short-acting benzodiazepines in long-term care declined after 2016, while long-acting benzodiazepine use did not change. The variation in benzodiazepine use among nursing homes is substantial. Identifying factors that explain this variation may help in developing strategies for deprescribing benzodiazepines in nursing home residents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-496
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Benzodiazepine
  • Long-term care
  • Medicare
  • Nursing home

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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