Interventions that support providers help improve prescribing behaviors, reduce antibiotic use

New analysis, published in the Cochrane Review, shows that supporting and encouraging physicians to change their prescribing behaviors has a significant impact on reducing the excessive use of antibiotics in healthcare settings.

Australian researchers analyzed 221 studies from the U.S., Europe, Asia, South America, and Australia. The studies focused on interventions aimed at healthcare professionals who prescribe antibiotics to hospitalized patients.

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There were two main categories of interventions — restrictive techniques that involve applying rules to ensure proper prescribing behavior and enabling techniques that involve providing advice or feedback to help physicians make appropriate prescribing decisions.

The researchers found that with either type of intervention, 58 percent of hospital patients received treatment in line with prescribing guidelines, compared with 43 percent of the patients in standard prescribing guideline groups. The interventions also helped shorten the duration of antibiotic use per patient from 11 days to nine days.

Interventions that included either enabling or restrictive techniques, or both, were more effective than standard prescribing guidelines that involved only simple education.

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