An Approach to Evaluate the Effects of Concomitant Prescribing of Opioids and Benzodiazepines on Veteran Deaths and Suicides

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2019

Responding to the concern about opioid and benzodiazepine use in the veteran population, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to “develop a protocol/study design to evaluate the relationship between concomitant opioid and benzodiazepine medication practices at the VA, for treating mental health and combat-related trauma, which potentially
led to veteran’s deaths and suicides.”

In the resulting report, An Approach to Evaluate the Effects of Concomitant Prescribing of Opioids and Benzodiazepines on Veteran Deaths and Suicides, the committee developed study designs focusing on the following overarching research question: What were the effects of (1) opioid initiation and (2) tapering (i.e., discontinuing or reducing opioid dosage) strategies in the presence of benzodiazepines in veterans on all-cause mortality and suicide mortality from 2010 to 2017?

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