Coral Sirdifield

Dr Coral Sirdifield is a Research Fellow whose main research interests are in health inequalities and understanding and addressing the health needs of people in the criminal justice system. She is part of the Community and Health Research Unit (CaHRU) at the University of Lincoln, where she has also conducted research on GPs’ experiences and perceptions of benzodiazepine prescribing in primary care, and contributed to an international study of the Quality and Costs of Primary Care.

Patient experiences and perceptions of receiving benzodiazepines and z-drugs: lessons for safer prescribing

Benzodiazepines and z-drugs are used to treat insomnia, anxiety and pain. Although recommended for short-term use only, they are sometimes prescribed long-term. This session presents findings from a meta-synthesis of qualitative studies of patients’ experiences and perceptions of receiving these drugs. This study aimed to identify factors which perpetuate use of these drugs, and strategies for achieving safer prescribing. The research involved searching six databases for studies published in a European language between 2000 and April 2014. A total of nine papers were included within the review, and these were synthesised using thematic synthesis in NVivo. Findings were organised into seven themes which were structured around the patient journey from perceiving that something was wrong, through to receiving benzodiazepines and/or z-drugs and finally withdrawal. The inappropriate use of these drugs was perpetuated by psychological dependence, patients denying or being unaware of the potential side-effects, and a lack of alternative support. Recommended strategies to reduce inappropriate of these drugs were a) creation of educational resources, b) making alternatives more widely available, and c) targeted conversations between healthcare practitioners and patients.