Drugs & Aging

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 299–310 | Cite as

Use of Benzodiazepines and Association with Falls in Older People Admitted to Hospital: A Prospective Cohort Study

  • Anna Ballokova
  • Nancye M. Peel
  • Daniela Fialova
  • Ian A. Scott
  • Leonard C. Gray
  • Ruth E. Hubbard
Original Research Article



Hypnosedatives are commonly prescribed for anxiety and sleep problems. Changes in pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of benzodiazepines (BZDs) during ageing may increase their potential to cause adverse outcomes.


This study aimed to investigate the use of BZDs in acute care settings and explore their association with falls.


A prospective cohort study was undertaken of patients aged over 70 years consecutively admitted to 11 acute care hospitals in Australia. Data were collected using the interRAI Acute Care assessment tool. Falls were recorded prospectively (in hospital) and retrospectively (in the 90 days prior to admission).


Of 1,412 patients, 146 (10.3 %) were taking BZDs at admission and 155 (11.3 %) at discharge. Incidence rates of in-hospital fallers for users and non-users of BZDs were not statistically different [incidence rate ratio 1.03, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 0.58–1.82]. There was also no significant association between benzodiazepine use at admission and history of falls in the previous 90 days compared with non-users. However, patients on diazepam were significantly more likely to have a history of falls than all other benzodiazepine users (70.8 vs. 36.1 %; p = 0.002), particularly when compared with oxazepam users (70.8 vs. 25.0 %; p < 0.001). Adjusting for confounders, use of diazepam at admission was positively associated with a history of falls compared with all other benzodiazepine users (odds ratio 3.0; 95 % CI 1.1–8.5; p = 0.036).


Different BZDs may vary in their propensity to predispose to falls, with diazepam having the strongest association. The selection of particular BZDs for older patients should be carefully evaluated.


Oxazepam Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment Temazepam Acute Care Setting Cognitive Performance Scale 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The preparation of this manuscript was funded by the Princess Alexandra Hospital Private Practice Trust Fund Research Support Grants scheme, and MID-FRAIL-HEALTH-F2-2012-278803, PRVOUK P40/faf/2013

Anna Ballokova, Nancye M. Peel, Daniela Fialova, Ian A. Scott, Leonard C. Gray and Ruth E. Hubbard have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Ballokova
    • 1
  • Nancye M. Peel
    • 2
  • Daniela Fialova
    • 1
    • 3
  • Ian A. Scott
    • 4
    • 5
  • Leonard C. Gray
    • 2
  • Ruth E. Hubbard
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Geriatrics and Gerontology, 1st Faculty of MedicineCharles University in PraguePragueCzech Republic
  2. 2.Centre for Research in Geriatric Medicine, School of MedicineUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Social and Clinical Pharmacy, Faculty of Pharmacy in Hradec KraloveCharles University in PraguePragueCzech Republic
  4. 4.School of MedicineThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  5. 5.Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical EpidemiologyPrincess Alexandra HospitalBrisbaneAustralia

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