Objectives: Although zolpidem is listed as a controlled drug in Taiwan, patients' behavior has not been restricted and has led to the problem of doctor shopping behavior (DSB), leading to overutilization of medical resources and excess spending. The National Health Insurance Administration in Taiwan has instituted a new policy to regulate physicians' prescribing behavior and decrease DSB. This retrospective study aimed to analyze the DSB for zolpidem by insomnia patients and assess related factors. Design and Participants: Data were extracted from the Longitudinal Health Insurance Database in Taiwan. Individuals with a diagnosis of insomnia who received more than one prescription of zolpidem in 2008 were followed for 24 mo. Doctor shopping was defined as 2 prescriptions by different doctors within 1 day overlapping in the duration of therapy. The percentage of zolpidem obtained through doctor shopping was used as an indicator of the DSB of each patient. Results: Among the 6,947 insomnia patients who were prescribed zolpidem, 1,652 exhibited DSB (23.78%). The average dose of zolpidem dispensed for each patient during 24 mo was 244.21 daily defined doses. The doctor shopping indicator (DSI) was 0.20 (standard deviation, 0.23) among patients with DSB. Younger age, chronic diseases, high number of diseases, higher premium status, high socioeconomic status, and fewer people served per practicing physicians were all factors significantly related to doctor shopping behavior. Conclusion: Doctor shopping for zolpidem appears to be an important issue in Taiwan. Implementing a proper referral system with efficient data exchange by physician or pharmacist-led medication reconciliation process might reduce DSB.
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