Improving Outpatient Antibiotic Prescribing for Respiratory Tract Infections in Primary Care; a Stepped-Wedge Cluster Randomized Trial

Clin Infect Dis. 2021 Jul 2:ciab602. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciab602. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Inappropriate antibiotic prescribing is common in primary care (PC), particularly for respiratory tract diagnoses (RTDs). However, the optimal approach for improving prescribing remains unknown.

METHODS: We conducted a stepped-wedge study in PC practices within a health system to assess the impact of a provider-targeted intervention on antibiotic prescribing for RTDs. RTDs were grouped into tiers based on appropriateness of antibiotic prescribing: tier 1 (almost always indicated), tier 2 (may be indicated), and tier 3 (rarely indicated). Providers received education on appropriate RTD prescribing followed by monthly peer comparison feedback on antibiotic prescribing for (1) all tiers and (2) tier 3 RTDs. Chi-squared testing was used to compare the proportion of visits with antibiotic prescriptions before and during the intervention. Mixed-effects multivariable logistic regression analysis was performed to assess the association between the intervention and antibiotic prescribing.

RESULTS: Across 30 PC practices and 185,755 total visits, overall antibiotic prescribing was reduced with the intervention, from 35.2% to 23.0% of visits (p<0.001). In multivariable analysis, the intervention was associated with a reduced odds of antibiotic prescription for tiers 2 (OR 0.57; 95% CI 0.52 - 0.62) and 3 (OR 0.57; 95% CI 0.53 - 0.61), but not for tier 1 (OR 0.98; 95% CI 0.83 - 1.16).

CONCLUSION: A provider-focused intervention reduced overall antibiotic prescribing for RTDs without affecting prescribing for infections that likely require antibiotics. Future research should examine the sustainability of such interventions, potential unintended adverse effects on patient health or satisfaction, and provider perceptions and acceptability.

PMID:34212177 | DOI:10.1093/cid/ciab602