Tapering off long-term benzodiazepine use with or without group cognitive-behavioural therapy: Three-condition, randomised controlled trial

Richard C. Oude Voshaar, Wim J.M.J. Gorgels, Audrey J.J. Mol, Anton J.L.M. Van Balkom, Eloy H. Van De Lisdonk, Marinus H.M. Breteler, Henk J.M. Van Den Hoogen, Frans G. Zitman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

118 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Benzodiazepine withdrawal programmes have never been experimentally compared with a non-intervention control condition. Aims: To evaluate the efficacy and feasibility of tapering off long-term benzodiazepine use in general practice, and to evaluate the value of additional group cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). Method: A 3-month randomised, controlled trial was conducted in which 180 people attempting to discontinue long-term benzodiazepine use were assigned to tapering off plus group CBT, tapering off alone or usual care. Results: Tapering off led to a significantly higher proportion of successful discontinuations than usual care (62% v. 21%). Adding group CBT did not increase the success rate (58% v. 62%). Neither successful discontinuation nor intervention type affected psychological functioning. Both tapering strategies showed good feasibility in general practice. Conclusions: Tapering off is a feasible and effective way of discontinuing long-term benzodiazepine use in general practice. The addition of group CBT is of limited value. Declaration of interest: None. The study was funded by the Dutch Health Care Insurance Council.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)498-504
Number of pages7
JournalBritish journal of psychiatry
Issue numberJUNE
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2003

Cite this