Poor congruence with guidelines in the use of antibiotics for acute bronchitis: a descriptive study based on electronic health records

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Although acute bronchitis is frequently viral in nature, antibiotics are usually inappropriately prescribed in Primary Care to treat this condition, with serious public health consequences.


To determine the prevalence and predictors of appropriate management of antibiotic use in acute bronchitis processes diagnosed in outpatients in the Spanish region of Aragón.


Four different electronic health databases provided demographic and clinical information pertaining to patients diagnosed with acute bronchitis in Primary Care in Aragón during 2011, as well as data for corresponding antibiotic prescriptions dispensed at pharmacies. We evaluated adherence to recommendations for antibiotic use in acute bronchitis episodes in adults collected in both international and national guidelines. Finally, regression analyses were used to identify factors associated with appropriate antibiotic management.


A total of 54701 episodes of acute bronchitis were registered, 9.5% of which corresponded to patients with an underlying chronic respiratory disease. In adults, antibiotics were prescribed in 64.9% of episodes, 17.9% of which involved prescription of a first-choice agent. Overall, 48.5% of episodes were appropriately managed according to guidelines. The likelihood of appropriate treatment was higher for female patients, and lower for patients who were older, presented chronic co-morbidities or were using corticoids.


We observed poor levels of adherence to recommendations for antibiotic prescribing in adults with acute bronchitis, in terms of both the decision to prescribe and the choice of antibiotic agent. Older acute bronchitis patients and those with co-morbidities were at greater risk of being inappropriately treated.

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