The study, published in the BJGP, showed that interactive sessions to explain evidence-based guidelines cut antibiotic prescribing by 20%. GPs continued to use fewer antibiotics in prescriptions 30 months later.
Researchers said the findings 'could justify the large-scale implementation of this intervention'.
England’s CMO Professor Dame Sally Davies has said the world faces a ‘catastrophic threat’ from antimicrobial resistance.
A recent study found 97% of patients who ask their GP for antibiotics are prescribed them. Experts said GPs must do more to limit antibiotic prescribing.
In the RCT, 72 GPs in France attended an interactive seminar about current guidelines on antibiotic prescribing, while a control group of 99 GPs did not attend.
The talks, hosted by GPs with expertise in continuing medical education and in infectious diseases, trained GPs how to follow latest guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of upper and lower respiratory tract infections.
GPs also took part in role-playing sessions on how to deal with patient demands in consultations.
Researchers saw that four to six months later the proportion of GP prescriptions that contained antibiotics fell from 15.2% to 12.3% among those attending the seminars.
In contrast, rates among the control group rose from 15.3% to 16.4%. Differences between the groups persisted for at least two-and-a-half years.
Authors concluded: 'This study showed that a standardised medical education programme based on interactive methods significantly reduces antibiotic prescribing in general practice.'