Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Antibiotic use and concomitant resistance are increasing. Literature reviews do not unambiguously indicate which interventions are most effective in improving antibiotic prescribing practice.
To assess the effectiveness of physician-targetedinterventions aiming to improveantibiotic prescribing for respiratorytractinfections (RTIs) in primary care, and to identify intervention features mostly contributing to intervention success.
DESIGN AND SETTING:
Analysis of a set of physician-targeted interventions in primary care.
A literature search (1990-2009) for studies describing the effectiveness of interventions aiming to optimise antibiotic prescription for RTIs by primary care physicians. Intervention features were extracted and effectiveness sizes were calculated. Association between intervention features and intervention success was analysed in multivariate regression analysis.
This study included 58 studies, describing 87 interventions of which 60% significantly improved antibioticprescribing; interventions aiming to decrease overall antibiotic prescription were more frequently effective than interventions aiming to increase first choice prescription. On average, antibiotic prescription was reduced by 11.6%, and first choice prescription increased by 9.6%. Multiple interventions containing at least 'educational material for the physician' were most often effective. No significant added value was found for interventions containing patient-directed elements. Communication skills training and near-patient testing sorted the largest intervention effects.
This review emphasises the importance of physician education in optimising antibiotic use. Further research should focus on how to provide physicians with the relevant knowledge and tools, and when to supplement education with additional intervention elements. Feasibility should be included in this process.