Date of Award
Medical Doctor (MD)
Michael H. Bloch
Objective: Current practice guidelines do not recommend benzodiazepines for acute management of anxiety disorders in pediatric patients. However, in procedural settings, benzodiazepines are commonly used to relieve acute pre-procedural stress. This meta-analysis examines the efficacy and tolerability of benzodiazepines as short-term anxiolytics in children.
Method: PubMed was searched for randomized controlled trials assessing the efficacy of benzodiazepines as short-term anxiolytics in pediatric patients. Twenty-one trials involving a total of 1,416 participants were included. A fixed effects model was used to examine the standardized mean difference of improvement in anxiety levels compared to control conditions. In stratified subgroup and meta-regression, the effect of the specific agent, dose, timing, and setting of benzodiazepine treatment was examined.
Results: A significant benefit was seen for benzodiazepines compared to control (standardized mean difference = 0.71 [95% confidence interval, 0.60-0.82], k = 24, z = 12.7, p<0.001). There was also funnel plot asymmetry in this meta-analysis, suggesting some evidence of publication bias. Moderator analyses found that when benzodiazepines were used in dental or non-operating room procedures, they were more effective than when they were used in operating room procedures (test for subgroup differences Q2 = 6.34, p=0.04). Tolerability analysis revealed there was no significant difference in the risk of developing irritability or behavioral changes between benzodiazepine and control groups.
Conclusions: Benzodiazepines are effective and well-tolerated when used as short-term anxiolytics in procedural settings for pediatric patients. Further research is needed to determine whether benzodiazepines are effective in pediatric anxiety disorders.
Kuang, Heide, "The Efficacy Of Benzodiazepines As Acute Anxiolytics In Children: A Meta-Analysis" (2017). Yale Medicine Thesis Digital Library. 2135.