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Trial, Apr/23: Blended care to discontinue benzodiazepine receptor agonists use


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The full title of this Belgian randomized controlled trial is "Blended care to discontinue benzodiazepine receptor agonists use in patients with chronic insomnia disorder: a pragmatic cluster randomized controlled trial in primary care".






Study objectives: International guidelines recommend using benzodiazepine receptor agonists (BZRA) for maximally four weeks. Nevertheless, long-term use for chronic insomnia disorder remains a common practice. This study aimed to test the effectiveness of blended care for discontinuing long-term BZRA use in general practice.


Methods: A pragmatic cluster randomized controlled superiority trial compared blended care to usual care through urine toxicology screening. In the intervention, care by the general practitioner (GP) was complemented by an interactive e-learning program, based on cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. Adults using BZRA daily for minimally 6 months were eligible. Participants were clustered at the level of the GP surgery for allocation (1:1). Effectiveness was measured as the proportion of patients who had discontinued at one-year follow-up. Data analysis followed intention-to-treat principles.


Results: In total, 916 patients in 86 clusters, represented by 99 GPs, were randomized. Primary outcome data was obtained from 727 patients (79%). At one-year follow-up, 82 patients (18%) in blended care, compared to 91 patients (20%) in usual care, had discontinued. There was no statistically significant effect for the intervention (OR: 0.924; 95% CI: 0.60; 1.43). No adverse events were reported to the research team.


Conclusions: The findings did not support the superiority of blended care over usual care. Both strategies showed clinical effectiveness, with an average of 19% of patients having discontinued at one-year follow-up. Further research is important to study the effect of structurally implementing digital interventions in general practice.


Clinical trial: Big Bird trial; KCE-17016. This trial is registered at clinicaltrials.gov (NCT03937180).


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