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Delayed antibiotic prescribing strategies for respiratory tract infections in primary care: pragmatic, factorial, randomised controlled trial

Delayed antibiotic prescribing strategies for respiratory tract infections in primary care: pragmatic, factorial, randomised controlled trial
Delayed antibiotic prescribing strategies for respiratory tract infections in primary care: pragmatic, factorial, randomised controlled trial
Objective: to estimate the effectiveness of different strategies involving delayed antibiotic prescription for acute respiratory tract infections.

Design: open, pragmatic, parallel group, factorial, randomised controlled trial.

Setting: primary care in the United Kingdom.

Patients: 889 patients aged 3 years and over with acute respiratory tract infection, recruited between 3 March 2010 and 28 March 2012 by 53 health professionals in 25 practices.

Interventions: patients judged not to need immediate antibiotics were randomised to undergo four strategies of delayed prescription: recontact for a prescription, post-dated prescription, collection of the prescription, and be given the prescription (patient led). During the trial, a strategy of no antibiotic prescription was added as another randomised comparison. Analysis was intention to treat.

Main outcome measures: mean symptom severity (0-6 scale) at days 2-4 (primary outcome), antibiotic use, and patients’ beliefs in the effectiveness of antibiotic use. Secondary analysis included comparison with immediate use of antibiotics.

Results: mean symptom severity had minimal differences between the strategies involving no prescription and delayed prescription (recontact, post-date, collection, patient led; 1.62, 1.60, 1.82, 1.68, 1.75, respectively; likelihood ratio test ?2 2.61, P=0.625). Duration of symptoms rated moderately bad or worse also did not differ between no prescription and delayed prescription strategies combined (median 3 days v 4 days; 4.29, P=0.368). There were modest and non-significant differences in patients very satisfied with the consultation between the randomised groups (79%, 74%, 80%, 88%, 89%, respectively; likelihood ratio test ?2 2.38, P=0.667), belief in antibiotics (71%, 74%, 73%, 72%, 66%; 1.62, P=0.805), or antibiotic use (26%, 37%, 37%, 33%, 39%; 4.96, P=0.292). By contrast, most patients given immediate antibiotics used antibiotics (97%) and strongly believed in them (93%), but with no benefit for symptom severity (score 1.76) or duration (median 4 days).

Conclusion: strategies of no prescription or delayed antibiotic prescription result in fewer than 40% of patients using antibiotics, and are associated with less strong beliefs in antibiotics, and similar symptomatic outcomes to immediate prescription. If clear advice is given to patients, there is probably little to choose between the different strategies of delayed prescription
0959-8138
1-8
Little, P.
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Moore, M.
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Kelly, J.
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Williamson, I.
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Leydon, G.
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McDermott, L.
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Mullee, M.
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Stuart, B.
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Little, P.
1bf2d1f7-200c-47a5-ab16-fe5a8756a777
Moore, M.
1be81dad-7120-45f0-bbed-f3b0cc0cfe99
Kelly, J.
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Williamson, I.
12381296-edbf-4ac5-969b-dcb559c22f27
Leydon, G.
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McDermott, L.
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Mullee, M.
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Stuart, B.
ab5138db-f67f-4bc3-a424-0bf0220cfc92

Little, P., Moore, M., Kelly, J., Williamson, I., Leydon, G., McDermott, L., Mullee, M. and Stuart, B. (2014) Delayed antibiotic prescribing strategies for respiratory tract infections in primary care: pragmatic, factorial, randomised controlled trial. British Medical Journal, 348 (G1606), 1-8. (doi:10.1136/bmj.g1606). (PMID:24603565)

Record type: Article

Abstract

Objective: to estimate the effectiveness of different strategies involving delayed antibiotic prescription for acute respiratory tract infections.

Design: open, pragmatic, parallel group, factorial, randomised controlled trial.

Setting: primary care in the United Kingdom.

Patients: 889 patients aged 3 years and over with acute respiratory tract infection, recruited between 3 March 2010 and 28 March 2012 by 53 health professionals in 25 practices.

Interventions: patients judged not to need immediate antibiotics were randomised to undergo four strategies of delayed prescription: recontact for a prescription, post-dated prescription, collection of the prescription, and be given the prescription (patient led). During the trial, a strategy of no antibiotic prescription was added as another randomised comparison. Analysis was intention to treat.

Main outcome measures: mean symptom severity (0-6 scale) at days 2-4 (primary outcome), antibiotic use, and patients’ beliefs in the effectiveness of antibiotic use. Secondary analysis included comparison with immediate use of antibiotics.

Results: mean symptom severity had minimal differences between the strategies involving no prescription and delayed prescription (recontact, post-date, collection, patient led; 1.62, 1.60, 1.82, 1.68, 1.75, respectively; likelihood ratio test ?2 2.61, P=0.625). Duration of symptoms rated moderately bad or worse also did not differ between no prescription and delayed prescription strategies combined (median 3 days v 4 days; 4.29, P=0.368). There were modest and non-significant differences in patients very satisfied with the consultation between the randomised groups (79%, 74%, 80%, 88%, 89%, respectively; likelihood ratio test ?2 2.38, P=0.667), belief in antibiotics (71%, 74%, 73%, 72%, 66%; 1.62, P=0.805), or antibiotic use (26%, 37%, 37%, 33%, 39%; 4.96, P=0.292). By contrast, most patients given immediate antibiotics used antibiotics (97%) and strongly believed in them (93%), but with no benefit for symptom severity (score 1.76) or duration (median 4 days).

Conclusion: strategies of no prescription or delayed antibiotic prescription result in fewer than 40% of patients using antibiotics, and are associated with less strong beliefs in antibiotics, and similar symptomatic outcomes to immediate prescription. If clear advice is given to patients, there is probably little to choose between the different strategies of delayed prescription

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 5 February 2014
e-pub ahead of print date: 6 March 2014
Published date: 6 March 2014
Organisations: Primary Care & Population Sciences

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 363424
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/363424
ISSN: 0959-8138
PURE UUID: 5824d347-ab00-4dd6-a000-eae3052ec67a
ORCID for M. Moore: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-5127-4509
ORCID for G. Leydon: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-5986-3300

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Date deposited: 25 Mar 2014 10:11
Last modified: 15 Oct 2019 00:44

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