Practitioner beliefs about sleep

  • GPs did not like prescribing drugs but were not sure what else they could do or how to do this
  • Compared to anxiety where GPs tended to use or refer for psychological treatments for insomnia, drugs were often an early choice of treatment, particularly Z drugs over benzodiazepine hypnotics
  • GPs positive to initiatives to reduce inappropriate prescribing

GPs felt that prescribing hypnotics was appropriate in some circumstances. Overall GPs did not like prescribing hypnotics, particularly long term. However, whereas they tended to use psychological treatments for anxiety they often resorted to drugs for insomnia. They liked Z-drugs because they through they were more effective, less likely to cause side effects, tolerance and addiction – although there was little evidence for these beliefs. They were positive to initiatives to reduce inappropriate hypnotic prescribing.

References

Siriwardena AN, Qureshi Z, Gibson S et al. Family doctors’ attitudes and behaviour to benzodiazepine and Z drug prescribing. BJGP 2006; 56: 964-967
Siriwardena AN et al. General practitioners’ preferences for managing insomnia and opportunities for reducing hypnotic prescribing. J Eval Clin Pract 2010;16: 731–737.