Gender differences in prescribing of zolpidem in the Veterans Health Administration

Guneet K. Jasuja*, Joel I. Reisman, Renda Soylemez Wiener, Melissa L. Christopher, Adam J. Rose

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Use of nonbenzodiazepine sedative hypnotics, especially zolpidem, has grown substantially, raising concerns about safety. Here, we evaluated prescribing patterns of zolpidem in the Veterans Health Administration. STUDY DESIGN: A cross-sectional study of veterans receiving zolpidem in the outpatient setting from October 1, 2011, to September 30, 2016. METHODS: The study population consisted of 500,332 zolpidem users (58,598 women and 441,734 men) and a random 10% sample (n = 631,449) of nonusers. We examined 2 outcomes related to inappropriate prescribing: high-dose zolpidem prescribing and overlap with benzodiazepines. We generated interrupted time series and logistic regression models to analyze these outcomes in men and women separately. RESULTS: In 2016, 29.7% of female veterans received an inappropriately high guideline-discordant dosage compared with 0.1% of male veterans (P <.001 for all reported comparisons). Furthermore, more women than men had overlapping benzodiazepine and zolpidem prescriptions (18.8% vs 14.3%). In fully adjusted models, inappropriately high doses were more commonly received by younger women (adjusted odds ratios [AORs]: 2.75 for 21-39 years and 2.97 for 40-49 years compared with ≥80 years) and women with substance use disorder (AOR, 1.48). In the second inappropriateness outcome models, women with anxiety (AOR, 2.28) or schizophrenia (AOR, 2.05) and men with cancer (AOR, 1.42), anxiety (AOR, 2.66), or schizophrenia (AOR, 2.46) were more likely to receive an overlapping prescription of zolpidem and benzodiazepines. CONCLUSIONS: We found evidence of inappropriate zolpidem prescribing among veterans, particularly women. Greater understanding of the drivers of this inappropriate prescribing is necessary to develop interventions to promote safer, more guideline-concordant prescribing.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)E58-E65
JournalAmerican Journal of Managed Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

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