Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of a Pharmacist-Led Outpatient Benzodiazepine-Tapering Clinic
Benzodiazepines are commonly used among older adults, despite well-known risks. Clinical pharmacists can lead tapering efforts, leveraging their clinical expertise and relieving time-pressured primary care providers.
The objective of this study is to describe the design, implementation, and evaluation of an outpatient pharmacist-led benzodiazepine-tapering clinic.
The clinic is based within a community medical group associated with a large academic health system in Los Angeles, California.
The clinic is staffed by clinical pharmacists and supervised by a psychiatrist. The initial visit consists of patient education, design of patient-driven tapering schedule, and medical history review. Follow-up phone/video visits are used to monitor withdrawal symptoms and provide support.
We used chart review to assess tapering status among those enrolled in the tapering clinic versus those who did not enroll. We compared outcomes across the 2 groups using bivariate statistics.
From March 2017 to May 2019, 176 patients were referred to the clinic; 17 were deemed ineligible. Of the 159 patients contacted, 62 patients enrolled in the clinic; 97 patients did not enroll. Among patients in the clinic, 13 (27%) of patients were tapered down, 29 (60%) completely tapered off, 6 (13%) were unable to taper, and 14 (23%) were in the process of tapering. In contrast, among patients who did not enroll, 3 (4%) of patients were tapered down, 15 (20%) completely tapered off, 57 (76%) were unable to taper, and 22 (22%) were in the process of tapering. Ninety percent of patients had at least some benzodiazepine tapering when enrolled in the clinic compared to 41% among not enrolled in the clinic (P<0.001).
A pharmacist-led benzodiazepine-tapering clinic can be an effective way to engage patients motivated to taper down. Lessons learned include the importance of ensuring referring providers adequately counsel patients prior to referral.
Gregorian T, Bradley K, Campbell S, Mashburn R, Beuttler R, Keller MS. Design, implementation, and evaluation of a pharmacist-led outpatient benzodiazepine-tapering clinic. J Am Pharm Assoc. 2023;63(1):409-415. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.japh.2022.09.025
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Available for download on Wednesday, October 04, 2023
NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of the American Pharmacists Association. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, volume 63, issue 1, in 2023. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.japh.2022.09.025
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