Trends, Variation, and Factors Influencing Antibiotic Prescribing: A Longitudinal Study in Primary Care Using a Multilevel Modelling Approach

Peter Devine, Maurice O’Kane, Magda Bucholc

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Abstract

Antimicrobial resistance has become one of the greatest threats to global health. Over 80% of antibiotics are prescribed in primary care, with many prescriptions considered to be issued inappropriately. The aim of this study was to examine the association between prescribing rates and demographic, practice, geographic, and socioeconomic characteristics using a multilevel modelling approach. Antibiotic prescribing data by 320 GP surgeries in Northern Ireland were obtained from Business Services Organisation for the years 2014–2020. A linear mixed-effects model was used to identify factors influencing antibiotic prescribing rates. Overall, the number of antibacterial prescriptions decreased by 26.2%, from 1,564,707 items in 2014 to 1,155,323 items in 2020. Lower levels of antibiotic prescribing were associated with urban practices (p < 0.001) and practices in less deprived areas (p = 0.005). The overall decrease in antibacterial drug prescriptions over time was larger in less deprived areas (p = 0.03). Higher prescribing rates were linked to GP practices located in areas with a higher percentage of the population aged ≥65 (p < 0.001) and <15 years (p < 0.001). There were also significant regional differences in antibiotic prescribing. We advocate that any future antibiotic prescribing targets should account for local factors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalAntibiotics
Volume11
Issue number1
Early online date24 Dec 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Antibacterial drugs
  • Antibiotics prescribing
  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Deprivation
  • General practice
  • Mixed-effects model
  • Multilevel modelling
  • Primary care

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