This study investigates the impact of physical illness, health locus of control and anxiety level on long- and short-term benzodiazepine (BZD) use in patients of an internal medicine department. There was no significant difference observed between the continuing and discontinuing group after hospital admission in terms of average daily dose of BZD. However, the continuing patients rated the condition of their somatic illness significantly higher than the discontinuing group, although this difference was not confirmed by the objective assessment of the treating physician. The non-continuing group displayed significantly higher control over health- and sickness-related events. The somatic and physical anxiety factor was significantly higher in the continuing group at initial investigation as well as at follow-up. On the basis of these results, we conclude that an increased focus on the psychosomatic element might reduce the risk of long-term tranquiliser use in patients with physical illness.