Patterns of zolpidem use among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans: A retrospective cohort analysis

Ramona Shayegani, Kangwon Song, Megan E. Amuan, Carlos A. Jaramillo, Blessen C. Eapen, Mary Jo Pugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background Although concern exists regarding the adverse effects and rate of zolpidem use, especially long-term use, limited information is available concerning patterns of zolpidem use. Objective To examine the prevalence and correlates of zolpidem exposure in Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans (IAVs). Methods A retrospective cohort study of zolpidem prescriptions was performed with National Veterans Health Administration (VHA) data. We gathered national VA inpatient, outpatient, and pharmacy data files for IAV’s who received VA care between fiscal years (FY) 2013 and 2014. The VA pharmacy database was used to identify the prevalence of long term (>30 days), high-dose zolpidem exposure (>10mg immediate-release; >12.5mg extended-release) and other medications received in FY14. Baseline characteristics (demographics, diagnoses) were identified in FY13. Bivariate and multivariable analyses were used to examine the demographic, clinical, and medication correlates of zolpidem use. Results Of 493,683 IAVs who received VHA care in FY 2013 and 2014, 7.6% (n = 37,422) were prescribed zolpidem in FY 2014. Women had lower odds of high-dose zolpidem exposure than men. The majority (77.3%) of IAVs who received zolpidem prescriptions had long-term use with an average days’ supply of 189.3 days and a minority (0.9%) had high-dose exposure. In multivariable analyses, factors associated with long-term zolpidem exposure included age greater than 29 years old, PTSD, insomnia, Selim Index, physical 2–3 conditions, opioids, antidepressants, benzodiazepines, atypical antipsychotics, and stimulants. High dose exposure was associated with PTSD, depression, substance use disorder, insomnia, benzodiazepines, atypical antipsychotics, and stimulant prescriptions. Conclusion The current practices of insomnia pharmacotherapy in IAVs fall short of the clinical guidelines and may reflect high-risk zolpidem prescribing practices that put Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans at risk for adverse effects of zolpidem and poor health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0190022
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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