A national 5-year follow-up study of infection-specific antibiotic use in primary care was conducted to see if prescribing practices change after implementing new treatment guidelines.Methods
The data were collected during 1 week of November each year from 1998 to 2002 from 30 health care centers that covered a total population of 819,777 persons and in 2002 from 20 control health care centers that covered a population of 545,098 persons. National guidelines for 6 major infections (otitis media, sinusitis, throat infection, acute bronchitis, urinary tract infection, and bacterial skin infection) were published in 1999–2000. Multifaceted interventions were performed by local trainers teaching his or her coworkers, supported by feedback and patient and public information.Results
The 6 infections targeted for intervention, together with unspecified upper respiratory tract infection constituted 80%-85% of all infections. The proportion of patients who received prescriptions for antibiotics did not change significantly. However, use of first-line antibiotics increased for all infections, and the change was significant for sinusitis (P < .001), acute bronchitis (P = .015), and urinary tract infections (P = .009). Also, the percentage of antibiotic treatments prescribed for the recommended duration increased significantly. Correct prescribing for respiratory tract infections improved by 6.4 percentage units (P < .001). However, there was no statistically significant difference in performance between study and control health care centers at follow-up.Conclusions
Moderate qualitative improvements in antibiotic use were observed after multifaceted intervention, but prescribing for unjustified indications, mainly acute bronchitis, did not decrease. Obtained infection-specific information on management of patients with infections in primary health care is an important basis for planning targeted interventions in the future.