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Br J Gen Pract. Oct 1, 2009; 59(567): 728–734.
PMCID: PMC2751917
Effect of antibiotic prescribing strategies and an information leaflet on longer-term reconsultation for acute lower respiratory tract infection
Michael Moore, MRCP, FRCGP, Senior Lecturer, Paul Little, MSc, PhD, MRCP, FRCGP, Professor of Primary Care Research, Kate Rumsby, BA, Trial Manager, Jo Kelly, BSc, Research Assistant, and Louise Watson, MSc, PhD, Honorary Senior Research Fellow
Division of Community Clinical Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton
Greg Warner, MRCGP, DCG, DRCOG, GP
Nightingale Surgery, Romsey, Ireland
Tom Fahey, MD, FRCGP, Professor
Department of General Practice, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland
Ian Williamson, FRCGP, Senior Lecturer
Division of Community Clinical Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton
Address for correspondence Michael Moore, University of Southampton, Division of Community Clinical Sciences, Primary Medical Care Group, Aldermoor Close, Southampton. SO16 5ST. E-mail: mvm198/at/soton.ac.uk
Received March 31, 2009; Revised May 26, 2009; Accepted July 13, 2009.
Abstract
Background
Limited evidence suggests that delayed prescribing may influence future consultation behaviour.
Aim
To assess the effects of antibiotic prescribing strategy on reconsultation in the year following presentation with acute lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI).
Design of study
Balanced factorial randomised trial.
Setting
Primary care.
Method
Eight hundred and seven subjects, aged ≥3 years, had acute illness presenting with cough as the main symptom, plus at least one symptom or sign from sputum, chest pain, dyspnoea or wheeze. The subjects were randomised to one of three prescribing strategies (antibiotics, delayed antibiotic, no antibiotic) and a leaflet. Prior antibiotic use and reconsultation were assessed by medical record review.
Results
Patients who had been prescribed antibiotic for cough in the previous 2 years were much more likely to reconsult (incidence rate ratio [IRR] = 2.55, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.62 to 4.01) and use of a delayed prescription strategy is associated with reduced reconsultation in this group. In those with prior antibiotic exposure, there was a 34% reduction in consultation rate in the no antibiotic group (IRR = 0.66, 0.30 to 1.44, P = 0.295) and a 78% reduction for the delayed antibiotic group (IRR = 0.22, 0.10 to 0.49, P<0.001) when compared with those given immediate antibiotics. This effect was not observed in patients who had not been prescribed antibiotics in the previous 2 years; there was no reduction in consultations in the no antibiotic group (IRR = 1.23, 0.79 to 1.92, P = 0.358) or the delayed antibiotic group (1.19, 0.78 to 1.80, P = 0.426). There was an increase in consultation rate with an information leaflet (IRR = 1.27, 0.86 to 1.87, P = 0.229). Past attendance with cough, or past attendance with other respiratory illness and smoking, also predicted reconsultation with cough.
Conclusion
Delayed antibiotic prescribing for LRTI appears effective in modifying reconsultation behaviour, particularly in those with a prior history of antibiotic prescription for LRTI.
Keywords: anti-bacterial agents, primary health care, referral and consultation, respiratory tract infections
Articles from The British Journal of General Practice are provided here courtesy of
Royal College of General Practitioners