In this Issue: Improving the Safety of Prescription Opioid Use among Veterans » Table of Contents
Improving Opioid and Benzodiazepine Safety among Veterans with PTSD
Substantial numbers of Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) present with multiple and complex symptoms such as co-occurring pain, anxiety, and insomnia, and are commonly prescribed opioid and benzodiazepine medications to treat these symptoms. Yet, potential interactions between opioids and benzodiazepines pose serious risks. The most serious risks to patients include fall-related injuries caused by over-sedation and death due to respiratory depression. Thus, specific aims of this ongoing HSR&D study (October 2014 – September 2016)include:
Veterans were eligible for this retrospective study if they received care at a VA facility and were diagnosed with PTSD during FY2010 and FY2011.
Thus far, findings show that the annual prevalence of any (>30 days) and long-term (>90 days) concurrent opioid and benzodiazepine use was 10% and 5%, respectively, among men, and 14% and 7%, respectively, among women with PTSD. In addition—
Study findings support VA efforts to reduce non-recommended prescribing practices, including concurrent prescribing of opioids and benzodiazepines, by identifying subsets of the population at greater risk of adverse events. Moreover, results will help educate patients and providers with respect to two of the most important adverse events – death and fractures – associated with these medications, thereby informing clinical care decisions.
Principal Investigator: Eric Hawkins, PhD, is part of HSR&D's Center of Innovation for Veteran-Centered and Value-Driven Care in Seattle WA and Denver, CO.