Use of tranquilizers and sleeping pills among cancer patients is associated with a poorer quality of life

O. Paltiel*, A. Marzec-Boguslawska, V. Soskolne, S. Massalha, M. Avitzour, R. Pfeffer, N. Cherny, T. Peretz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Purpose: To evaluate the association between sleeping pill/tranquilizer (SP/T) use and quality of life (QOL) among cancer patients. Patients and methods: Oncology patients (n = 909) in three Israeli hospitals were interviewed in clinics, day centers and in-patient departments regarding SP/T use in the previous week. Crude and adjusted QOL scores, measured using the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire-C30 (EORTC QLQ-C30), were compared in users vs. non-users. Results: Sleeping pill/tranquilizer use was self-reported by 234 (25.7%) participants, but rarely documented in medical charts. Factors associated with SP/T use were female gender (adjusted Odds ratio, OR: 1.79; 95% Confidence interval, CI: 1.22-2.62, age (OR: 4.6; 95% CI: 1.66-12.53 for age 70‰+‰), place of birth (OR: 1.97; 95% CI: 1.19-3.26 for Eastern Europe compared with Israel), concomitant use of painkillers (OR: 2.88; 95% CI: 1.97-4.20) and presence of cardiovascular disease (OR: 2.41; 95% CI: 1.48-3.91). Controlling these factors as well as disease status, users had a poorer QOL on all functional scales (P < 0.001) as well as global QOL. Furthermore, users reported increased severity of symptoms, especially fatigue, insomnia, pain, dyspnea and constipation (P < 0.01), compared to non-users. Conclusions: Use of SP/T, reported by one fourth of cancer patients, was associated with substantially poorer QOL and increased severity of symptoms. Causal inference is not possible given the cross-sectional design. Periodic inquiry regarding use of these medications in the Oncology Clinic is recommended since it may identify patients with poor QOL and unmet needs.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1699-1706
Number of pages8
JournalQuality of Life Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 2004


  • Cancer
  • Quality of life
  • Sleeping medications


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