Doctors' Misuse of Antibiotics Is a Hard Habit to Break

May 14, 2008

Using physicians' offices as the venue to promote judicious use of antibiotics is an effective way to get the information into the right hands, but a multi-pronged approach may be more effective at getting doctors to take a more judicious approach to over-prescribing, according to an article published in the May/June issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

WEDNESDAY, May 14 (HealthDay News) -- Using physicians' offices as the venue to promote judicious use of antibiotics is an effective way to get the information into the right hands, but a multi-pronged approach may be more effective at getting doctors to take a more judicious approach to over-prescribing, according to an article published in the May/June issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Christopher J. Stille, M.D., of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Mass., and colleagues conducted a study of 168 physicians, of whom 95 percent received intervention materials, including locally endorsed guidelines, biweekly newsletters and group educational sessions, while 70 participants acted as controls.

Although 75 percent of the intervention group physicians reported decreased antibiotic prescribing during the intervention period (versus 58 percent of the control group), knowledge, attitudes and behaviors that help judicious antibiotic use remained unchanged. Physicians in both groups reported concerns about antibiotic resistance and stated that there was room to reduce prescribing in their own practice, the report indicates.

"Interviewed physicians suggested frequent repetition of messages, brief written materials on specific topics for themselves and patients, and promotion in the mass media as the most effective strategies to reduce prescribing," the authors write. "Campaigns that repeat brief, consistent reminders to multiple stakeholder groups may be most effective at assuring judicious antibiotic use."

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