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Aim: To determine the prevalence, pattern and correlates of use of benzodiazepines and other sedating over the counter medications in older persons in Abeokuta, an urban community in Nigeria.
Methodology: The design was cross-sectional. It was carried out among 212 retired state civil servants who attended the monthly meetings of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (Ogun state chapter, Abeokuta zone) between September and November 2016. Respondents were at least 60 years as at last birthday and provided information regarding benzodiazepine use (lifetime, previous 12 months and previous 30 days) and use of sedating (antihistamine) over the counter (OTC) medications (previous 12 months and 30 days).
Results: The mean age of respondents was 70.1 ± 7.1 years and the majority were males (81.6%). The rates of benzodiazepine use were: lifetime (41.5%); previous 12 months (34.9%); previous 30 days (23.1%). The most commonly used benzodiazepines in the last 30 days were diazepam (18.9%), bromazepam (16.5%), nitrazepam (9.9%) and lorazepam (3.3%). The rates of sedating OTC medication were: previous 12 months (49.5%); previous 30 days (36.8%). The most significant predictor variables of benzodiazepine use in the previous 30 days were: current alcohol use, current use of sedating OTC medications and daily use of medications to treat chronic medical conditions. Respondents in the ≥ 70 years category were less likely to have used a benzodiazepine in the past 30 days.
Conclusions: The rate of the use of benzodiazepines and sedating (antihistamine) OTC medications in the elderly is high. It is hoped that these findings will inform stakeholders of the extent and factors influencing hypnotic/sedative drug use in the elderly and lead to the formulation and implementation of policies and practices aimed at maintaining the health, independence, and function of older persons in Nigeria.