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Mak SS, Alessi CA, Kaufmann CN, Martin JL, Mitchell MN, Ulmer C, Lum HD, McCarthy MS, Smith JP, Fung CH. Pilot RCT Testing A Mailing About Sleeping Pills and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia: Impact on Benzodiazepines and Z-Drugs. Clinical Gerontologist. 2022 Oct 6; 1-12.
OBJECTIVES: The aim is to pilot a low-touch program for reducing benzodiazepine receptor agonist (BZRA; benzodiazepines, z-drugs) prescriptions among older veterans. METHODS: Pilot randomized controlled trial consists of 2,009 veterans aged = 65 years who received BZRA prescriptions from a Veterans Health Administration pharmacy (Colorado or Montana) during the prior 18 months. Active: Arm 1 was a mailed brochure about BZRA risks that also included information about a free, online cognitive behavioral therapy for the insomnia (CBTI) program. Arm 2 was a mailed brochure (same as arm 1) and telephone reinforcement call. Control: Arm 3 was a mailed brochure without insomnia treatment information. Active BZRA prescriptions at follow-up (6 and 12 months) were measured. RESULTS: In logistic regression analyses, the odds of BZRA prescription at 6- and 12-month follow-ups were not significantly different for arm 1 or 2 (active) versus arm 3 (control), including models adjusted for demographics and prescription characteristics (-values > 0.36). CONCLUSIONS: Although we observed no differences in active BZRA prescriptions, this pilot study provides guidance for conducting a future study, indicating a need for a more potent intervention. A full-scale trial testing an optimized program would provide conclusive results. CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Mailing information about BZRA risks and CBTI did not affect BZRA prescriptions.