Factors in Duration of Anxiolytic, Sedative, and Hypnotic Drug Use in the Elderly


  • Philippe Voyer
  • Michael McCubbin
  • Michel Préville
  • Richard Boyer


At least 2 decades of descriptive research on factors associated with psychotropic drug use by the elderly in the community has failed to yield convergent results. The authors posited that duration of use may have been confounding results of previous studies, since variables influencing initial use may not be those influencing long-term use. They conducted a secondary analysis of the elderly respondents in the cross-sectional 1998 Quebec Health Survey (n = 3,012). Results clearly show that factors associated with ASH use vary with duration of use. Apart from depression, medical and mental health factors significant for short-term use are not associated with long-term use. The only factors found that explain long-term but not short-term use were gender (female) and health perception (less than positive). These findings suggest that over the long term it is unlikely that mental health therapeutic benefits explain ASH use. The authors hypothesize that drug dependency could play a role in long-term use. They therefore encourage community health nurses to implement withdrawal programs in order to reduce harmful long-term consumption.