Symptom Presentation and Prescription of Sleep Medications for Veterans With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

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This study tested whether sleep medications prescribed to veterans diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are being targeted to patients who report more severe insomnia or nightmares. Secondary analysis of survey and pharmacy data was conducted in samples of veterans from two periods: from 2006 to 2008 and from 2009 to 2013. Logistic regression tested associations between self-reported insomnia and nightmare severity, and being prescribed trazodone, prazosin, zolpidem, and benzodiazepines, controlling for PTSD severity and other covariates. In both samples, insomnia severity independently predicted trazodone receipt, and nightmare severity independently predicted prazosin receipt. In the later study, insomnia severity predicted receipt of zolpidem. Veterans in the later sample were more likely to receive trazodone, prazosin, and non-benzodiazepine hypnotics, and less likely to receive benzodiazepines than those in the earlier sample. Further research is needed to evaluate and optimize pharmacological and psychosocial treatments for sleep problems among veterans with PTSD.

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