PURPOSE: α-Blockers are commonly used for the treatment of male lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS). The Dutch GP guideline on male LUTS contains an advice to discontinue treatment after 3-6 months of successful treatment. The guideline for urologists does not support this advice. It is unclear if these differences lead to other patterns of (dis)continuation of α-blockers. We aim to study continuation rates of α-blockers, prescribed by a urologist or a general practitioner (GP), and to predict discontinuation after 1 year.
METHODS: We conducted a retrospective inception cohort study on prescription patterns of α-blockers among Dutch men between 2006 and 2014, using the IADB.nl pharmacy prescription database from the University of Groningen. We selected men aged 30 years or older with a first α-blocker prescription between 2006 and 2013, and analysed continuation of prescriptions.
RESULTS: The database included 12,191 individual patients with at least one α-blocker prescriptions from a urologist (44.5%) or a GP (55.5%). The median treatment period for patients who started in the GPs office was 210 days, compared to 150 days for patients with a prescription from a urologist. Of all patients, 60.3% (GP prescriptions) and 66.1% (urologists' prescriptions) had discontinued treatment (Chi-square p < 0.001). Discontinuation rates were age dependent with higher rates in the youngest age groups.
CONCLUSION: In this study, the discontinuation rate 1 year after the initiation of treatment was high. Although Dutch GP's and urologist's guidelines differ with respect to a discontinuation advice, we could not find clinically relevant difference in (temporary) discontinuation rates.