, Volume 28, Issue 2 Supplement, pp 542-548,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 27 Jun 2013

Gender Differences in Prescribing Among Veterans Diagnosed with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Department of Defense (DoD) issued a revised posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Clinical Practice Guideline (CPG) in 2010 with specific pharmacotherapy recommendations for evidence-based quality care. The authors examined prescribing frequencies over an 11-year period prior to the release of the new guideline to determine gender differences in pharmacotherapy treatment in veterans with PTSD.

METHOD

National administrative VA data from 1999 to 2009 were used to identify veterans with PTSD using ICD-9 codes extracted from inpatient discharges and outpatient clinic visits. Prescribing of antidepressants, antipsychotics and hypnotics was determined for each year using prescription drug files.

RESULTS

Women were more likely than men to receive medication across all classes except prazosin where men had higher prescribing frequency. The proportion of women receiving either of the first-line pharmacotherapy treatments for PTSD, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI), increased from 56.4 % in 1999 to 65.7 % in 2009, higher rates than seen in men (49.2 % to 58.3 %). Atypical antipsychotic prescriptions increased from 14.6 % to 26.3 % and nonbenzodiazepine hypnotics increased from 3.8 % to 16.9 % for women, higher frequencies than seen in men for both medications (OR = 1.31, 1.43 respectively). The most notable gender discrepancy was observed for benzodiazepines where prescriptions decreased for men (36.7 % in 1999 to 29.8 % in 2009) but steadily increased for women from 33.4 % to 38.3 %.

CONCLUSION

A consistent pattern of increased prescribing of psychotropic medications among women with PTSD was seen compared to men. Prescribing frequency for benzodiazepines showed a marked gender difference with a steady increase for women despite guideline recommendations against use and a decrease for men. Common co-occurring disorders and sleep symptom management are important factors of PTSD pharmacotherapy and may contribute to gender differences seen in prescribing benzodiazepines in women but do not fully explain the apparent disparity.