Habit drives prescribing decisions for patients with insomnia

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Drug advertising, peer pressure, and psychosocial dynamics influence prescribing of sleep-inducing medications.

A number of factors come into play during clinical decision-making such as social and psychological dynamics, peer pressure and even exposure to drug advertising.

Findings from a new study suggest that when it comes to deciding on pharmacologic treatment for patients presenting with insomnia, habit rather than patient characteristics is a more potent predictor of prescribing.

The study compared prescribing decisions for the newer sedative, zolpidem, versus the antidepressant trazodone, which has been prescribed for insomnia due to its sleep-inducing effects. While zolpidem has superior efficacy, it is associated with side effects such as next-day drowsiness and dizziness. Trazodone, on the other hand, is considered less effective for insomnia but has a well-established safety profile. The results, published in Scientific Reports , show that those who previously prescribed a medication were three times as likely to continue prescribing the same drug subsequently.

Patients with symptoms of depression in addition to insomnia were somewhat more likely than those without depression to receive a prescription for trazodone, suggesting certain patient characteristics do play some role in clinical decision-making.



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