Benzodiazepines (BZD) and Z-drugs prescribing over time among the Aberdeen Children of 1950s (ACONF) cohort

First published: 10 May 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019

1.      Aims

To understand the prescribing patterns of BZD and Z-drugs(1,2) in line with the current guidelines(3,4) among the Aberdeen Children of the 1950s (ACONF) cohort(5) during 2009-2016, including the contribution of prolonged-release melatonin, and to investigate the characteristics of cohort members prescribed these drugs including early/mid/current-life socioeconomic status, social circumstances, social mobility, and multimorbidity.

2.      Design

A retrospective observational data linkage study in which the ACONF cohort was linked to a several Scottish electronic health datasets including: the Prescribing Information System(6), Scottish Drug Misuse dataset(7), and the Scottish Morbidity Database(8). (Routinely collected data)

3.     Participants

All members of the ACONF members (12,150 (6282 men) born between 1950 and 1956, attended Aberdeen Primary school between December 1962-March 1964, and traced between 2001-2003 with postal questionnaire) who were successfully linked to Prescribing Information System for the study period (1st April 2009 to 31st March 2016).

4.      Setting

Mainly Grampian, Scotland.

5.      Measurements

The overall and yearly prevalence and incidence of BZD, Z-drugs and prolonged-release melatonin will be calculated. Time series analysis will be used to describe the BZD and Z-drugs prescribing trend over the seven years. Characteristics of non-users, new users, those successfully weaned off, acute, intermittent and continuous users will be examined.

The relationship between prescribing and multimorbidity, socioeconomic status, social circumstances and social mobility across life-course will be examined using logistic regression adjusting for potential confounders.

Findings and conclusions

The data linkage is currently being completed and the findings will be available by the date of the meeting.


(1) Information Service Division Scotland. Medicines Used in Mental Health Years 2004/05 to 2014/15. October 2015; Available at: Accessed 08/09/2017, 2017.

(2) Reed K., Bond A., Witton J., Cornish R., Hickman M., Strang J. The changing use of prescribed benzodiazepines and z-drugs and of over-the-counter codeine-containing products in England: a structured review of published English and international evidence and available data to inform consideration of the extent of dependence and harm. 2011 2011:08/09/2017-

(3) Committee on Safety of Medicines. Benzodiazepines Dependence and Withdrawal Symptoms. 1988;21:1-2.

(4) National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Guidance on the use of zaleplon, zolpidem and zopiclone for the short-term mangement of insomnia. London: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence; April 2004.

(5) Batty G, Morton S, Campbell D, Clark H, Smith G, Hall M, et al. The Aberdeen Children of the 1950s cohort study: background, methods and follow-up information on a new resource for the study of life course and intergenerational influences on health. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol 2004 MAY;18(3):221-239.

(6) Alvarez-Madrazo S., McTaggart S., Nangle C., Nicholson E., Prof. Bennie M. Data Resource Profile: The Scottish National Prescribing Information System (PIS). 2016;0(0):1-8.

(7) Administrative Data Liaison Service. Scottish Drug Misuse Database. 2017; Available at:  Accessed 08/09, 2017.

(8) Administrative Data Liaison Service. Scottish Morbidity Database. 2017; Available at: Accessed 09/08, 2017.


Professor Corrinda Black Professor, Chronic Disease Research Group, Division of Applied Health Science, School of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Aberdeen. Clinical Academic Lead for Public Health Clinical Lead for the Grampian Data Safe Haven Chairs the Aberdeen Applied Renal Research Collaboration (ARRC) and Health Data Linkage in North East Scotland (HEADLINES) Research Network. Dr. Catriona Matheson Health Research Consultant Honorary Professor, University of Stirling Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Academic Primary Care, Institute of Applied Health Sciences, School of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Aberdeen. Treasurer and Trustee, The Society for the Study of Addiction

Conflicts of interest:

No conflict

Miss Hadah Alkhaldi