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The impact of COVID-19 on benzodiazepine usage in psychiatric inpatient units.

Authors
  • Zaki, Nancy1
  • Brakoulias, Vlasios2
  • 1 Department of Pharmacy, 60085Cumberland Hospital, Westmead, NSW, Australia. , (Australia)
  • 2 Office of the Mental Health Executive, Western Sydney Local Health District; School of Medicine and Translational Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University; Faculty of Medicine and Health, the University of Sydney, NSW, Australia. , (Australia)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Australasian psychiatry : bulletin of Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists
Publication Date
Jun 01, 2022
Volume
30
Issue
3
Pages
334–337
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1177/10398562211059090
PMID: 35144489
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

This study aims to investigate whether COVID-19 has led to increased usage of benzodiazepines in acute psychiatric settings. We evaluated the rates of benzodiazepine usage in two acute psychiatric inpatient units over a period of two years, 2019 and 2020 (the year of the pandemic). Rates of oral atorvastatin usage over the same period were used as a comparator. We saw a significant increase in the usage of benzodiazepines in the period between April and December 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 despite a decline in the total number of admissions in 2020. Usage peaked further at the time of eased pandemic restrictions which coincided with higher rates of emergency department mental health (MH) presentations and acute MH hospital admissions. We also noticed higher rates of substance use disorder recorded on admission. Hospital leave restrictions due to COVID-19 also led to further restrictions on smoking. Benzodiazepine usage increased in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The study encourages more research to better understand the impact of the pandemic on acute psychiatric settings.

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