Rational antibiotic prescribing is crucial to combat antibiotic resistance. Optimal strategies to improve antibiotic use are not known. Strama, the Swedish strategic program against antibiotic resistance, has been successful in reducing antibiotic prescription rates. This study investigates whether two specific interventions directed toward healthcare centers, an informational visit and a self-evaluation meeting, played a role in observed reduction in rates of antibiotic prescriptions in primary healthcare.
The study was a retrospective, observational, empirical analysis exploiting the variation in the timing of the interventions and considering past prescriptions through use of estimations from dynamic panel data models. Primary healthcare data from 2011 to 2014 were examined. Data were from public and private primary healthcare centers in western Sweden. The key variables were prescription of antibiotics and indicator variables for the two interventions.
The first intervention, an educational information intervention, decreased the number of prescriptions among public healthcare centers, but this effect was only temporary. We found no proof that the second intervention, a self-evaluation meeting at the healthcare center, had an impact on the reduction of prescriptions.
Single educational interventions aimed at influencing rates of antibiotic prescriptions have limited impact. A multifaceted approach is needed in efforts to reduce the use of antibiotics in primary health care.