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Reducing GP antibiotic prescribing through feedback

Published: 27 February, 2016

A trial involving over 1,500 GP practices found that writing to GPs about their antibiotics prescribing resulted in 73,000 fewer prescriptions (a 3.3% reduction) over 6 months. This equates to direct savings of over £92,000 in prescription costs.

There were 2 groups involved in the trial, GPs and patients.

  • In the intervention arm GPs were sent a letter saying ‘80% of practices in your local area prescribe fewer antibiotics per head than yours’, and were provided with 3 ways to make sure any antibiotics prescriptions were necessary.
  • The same GP practices were sent patient-focused information that promoted reduced use of antibiotics.

GPs who received the letter reduced their rate of antibiotic prescriptions to 127 per 1,000 compared to 131 per 1,000 by GPs who did not receive the letter. There was no significant difference in the rate of antibiotics prescriptions in the patient targeted group.

The trial was a collaboration between Public Health England and the Behavioural Insights Team.

Read more about the trial in The Lancet – Provision of social norm feedback to high prescribers of antibiotics in general practice: a pragmatic national randomised controlled trial.

Last updated: 27 February, 2016

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