Antibiotic use can be cut by involving patients in decisions

Enhancing patient participation in decision-making reduces antibiotic prescribing, a study suggests.

Antibiotics: involving patients in decisions can help cut their use
Antibiotics: involving patients in decisions can help cut their use

A team of researchers from Canada carried out a randomised trial of 359 patients at nine family practice teaching units. They evaluated the effect of a decision-making training programme on the use of antibiotics for acute respiratory infections.

The researchers said that despite efforts to cut use of antibiotics for acute respiratory infections, they are still prescribed too frequently and may be contributing to antibiotic resistance.

In the study, 181 patients at five practices were consulted by 77 physicians who had participated in a shared decision-making training program. The programme, called DECISION+2, included a two-hour online tutorial and a two-hour interactive seminar about shared decision-making.

A control group of 178 patients in four practices was consulted by 72 physicians who had not taken part in the shared decision-making training program.

A smaller proportion of patients in the DECISION+2 group (27%) opted to use antibiotics for acute respiratory infections immediately after consultation than patients in the control group (52%).

Commenting on the difference between the two groups, the researchers said: ‘A combination of live and media education are generally effective in changing physician performance in the context of antibiotic use for acute respiratory infections.’

‘Future studies should asses the effectiveness of shared decision-making in other clinical areas in which overuse of antibiotics is an issue,’ they added.

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