Insomnia Treatments Often Rely on Same Medication

HealthDay News —In treatment of insomnia, historical preference for a certain medication is highly predictive of future prescribing behavior, according to a study published online in Scientific Reports.

Andrew Beam, PhD, of Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues analyzed the medical records, including clinical notes, of 1105 insomnia patients. They focused on zolpidem and trazodone.

The researchers found that a doctor who prescribed a particular insomnia medication in the past was 3 times as likely to continue prescribing the same drug. Patients with symptoms of depression in addition to insomnia were a little more likely than those without depression to receive a prescription for trazodone.

“Our results illuminate the notion that just as everyone else, many physicians are creatures of habit who tend to rely on cognitive shortcuts in their decision-making,” Beam said in a Harvard news release.

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Beam AL, Kartoun U, Pai JK, Chatterjee, et al. Predictive Modeling of Physician-Patient Dynamics That Influence Sleep Medication Prescriptions and Clinical Decision-Making. Sci Rep.2017; doi: 10.1038/srep42282.