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Trends and correlates of concurrent opioid and benzodiazepine and/or gabapentinoid use among Ontario nursing home residents


Background — A concern with long-term opioid use is the increased risk arising when opioids are used concurrently with drugs that can potentiate their associated adverse effects. The drugs most often encountered are benzodiazepines (BZDs) and gabapentinoids. Our study objectives were to examine trends in the concurrent use of opioids and BZDs, or gabapentinoids, in a Canadian nursing home population over an 11-year period, and current resident-level correlates of this concurrent use.

Methods — We conducted a population-based, repeated cross-sectional study among Ontario nursing home residents (>65 years) dispensed opioids between April 2009 and February 2020. For the last study year, we examined cross-sectional associations between resident characteristics and concurrent use of opioids with BZDs or gabapentinoids. Linked data on nursing home residents from clinical and health administrative databases was used. The yearly proportions of residents who were dispensed an opioid concurrently with a BZD or gabapentinoid were plotted with percent change derived from log-binomial regression models. Separate modified Poisson regression models estimated resident-level correlates of concurrent use of opioids with BZDs or gabapentinoids.

Results — Over the study period, among residents dispensed an opioid there was a 53.2% relative decrease (30.7% to 14.4%) in concurrent BZD and a 505.4% relative increase (4.4% to 26.6%) in concurrent gabapentinoid use. In adjusted models, increasing age and worsening cognition were inversely associated with the concurrent use of both classes, but most other significantly related covariates were unique to each drug class (e.g., sex and anxiety disorders for BZD, pain severity and presence of pain-related conditions for gabapentinoids).

Conclusions — Co-administration of BZDs or gabapentinoids in Ontario nursing home residents dispensed opioids remains common, but the pattern of co-use has changed over time. Observed covariates of concurrent use in 2019/20 suggest distinct but overlapping resident populations requiring consideration of the relative risks versus benefits of this co-use and monitoring for potential harm.



Hogan DB, Campitelli MA, Bronskill SE, Iaboni A, Barry HE, Hughes CM, Gill SS, Maxwell CJ. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2023; 71(8):2462-75. Epub 2023 Mar 21.

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