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Database analysis of direct-to-patient interventions to reduce chronic sedative-hypnotic use in older adults

Category(s): Social Policy, Health
Status: Active
Principal: Chris Folkins
Project Number: P0065
Year Approved: 2024

The rate of chronic sleeping pill use by older adults is high across Atlantic Canada, particularly in New Brunswick (22%). Usage rates increase with age as do risks for serious harm (cognitive impairment, injuries from falls, etc.) and premature loss of independence. Recently, we completed the Your Answers When Needing Sleep in New Brunswick study (YAWNS NB) involving people 65 years of age and older who were taking sleeping pills long-term. The study had 565 participants in three groups. Two groups were mailed different types of information packages. These packages had information on the dangers of sleeping pills, how to safely reduce and stop sleeping pill use, and recommended behavioural methods to improve sleep. Based on participant self-reports, the packages were effective, with 29% stopping and another 23% reducing their sleeping pill use when interviewed at 6 months (compared to 8% and 13%, respectively, in the "no package" group). Follow-up research that corroborates and extends participants’ self-reports of changes in sleeping pill use is needed to support a general distribution of mailed materials to older adults in NB and other provinces.

Using linked NB administrative data accessed via the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training, the present study seeks to address the following questions: 1) What was the background rate of sleeping pill use by older adults in NB around the time of the YAWNS study?; 2) Is the change in sleeping use by those who were in the YAWNS NB study reflected in pharmacy dispensing records?; 3) When was the change detectable?; and 4) Was the change in use still detectable for 6 months after study participation ended?