Effectiveness of Benzodiazepine Receptor Agonists in the Treatment of Insomnia: An Examination of Response and Remission Rates

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Study objectives: To examine the real-world effectiveness of benzodiazepine receptor agonists (BzRAs) by quantifying response and remission rates in a clinical sample receiving chronic BzRA treatment for insomnia.

Methods: Participants were outpatients (N = 193; 72% female; 55.2 ± 11.1 year) who had an insomnia diagnosis per medical records, and who were taking a therapeutic dose of BzRA for their insomnia. Endpoints were nocturnal sleep disturbance and Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) scores. A reduction meeting the criterion for the minimally important difference in ISI scores (change ≥ 6) constituted "response"; "remission" was inferred when symptoms fell below the clinical cutoff (ISI < 11).

Results: Most participants (71%) used BzRAs at least 5 nights per week. Mean ISI scores were significantly lower (t = 22.31; p < .01) while on BzRAs than when untreated, but remained in the clinical range (mean = 11.0; standard deviation = 5.7). Although 76.7% responded to treatment, only 47.7% remitted. The majority (68.9%) of participants had a sleep-onset latency > 30 minutes and/or wake-time after sleep onset > 60 minutes while on BzRAs. After controlling for gender and insomnia severity when untreated, odds of insomnia persistence despite BzRA use were 2 times higher in patients with comorbid medical [odds ratio (OR) = 2.39; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.20% to 4.77%; p < .05] and psychiatric disorders (OR = 2.24; 95% CI = 1.21% to 4.13%; p < .05).

Conclusions: This is the first study to distinguish between response and remission in insomnia patients taking BzRAs. Findings suggest that while many insomnia patients respond to chronic BzRA treatment, most do not remit. Remission rates are particularly low for comorbid insomnia, the most prevalent phenotype of the disorder.

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Adult; Aged; Chronic Disease; Dose-Response Relationship, Drug; Female; GABA-A Receptor Agonists; Humans; Induction Chemotherapy; Male; Middle Aged; Retrospective Studies; Severity of Illness Index; Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders; Treatment Outcome

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