Internet-based training could help in the fight against antibiotic resistance

July 31, 2013

Antibiotic prescribing rates for acute respiratory tract infections could be significantly lowered using internet-based training for clinicians, new research has shown.

In a study, led by the University of Southampton and published in The Lancet today (Wednesday 31 July), an internet-based has shown to reduce antibiotics prescribing rates by as much as 62 percent.

Paul Little, Professor of Primary Care Research at the University of Southampton, comments: "The high volume of prescribing antibiotics in primary care is a major driver of antibiotic resistance, which is one of the great public health dangers of our time, and raises the real prospect of serious infections becoming untreatable.

"Training has been shown to have a positive effect on lowering prescription rates but the way training has been delivered and its reliance on highly trained staff around centres of excellence severely limits the impact in everyday practice. Novel techniques are therefore needed to lead changes at a national and international level. Internet training has the advantage that it can be disseminated widely at a low cost and does not need much resource."

Lower (LRTI), such as like bronchitis, are one of the most common acute illnesses treated in primary care in . Although viruses are believed to cause most of these infections, there is still debate about whether or not antibiotics are beneficial for some patients in the treatment of LRTI, particularly in older patients. Meanwhile antibiotics are still being prescribed in high amounts, fuelling .

In the study, from the GRACE (Genomics to Combat Resistance against Antibiotics in Community-acquired LRTI in Europe) consortium and funded by the European Community's Sixth Framework Programme, 246 from six countries were recruited. They were randomised to one of four trial arms: usual care, internet-based training to use a C-reactive protein (CRP) test (an indicator test for pneumonia), internet-based training in enhanced communication skills, and combined training in both CRP and enhanced communication.

The study, supported by the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network in England, showed that clinicians who received training in using the CRP test or the enhanced communications skills training significantly reduced their antibiotic prescribing rates for LRTI, compared to usual care (47 per cent and 32 per cent respectively). Furthermore, clinicians who received training in a combination of both reduced prescribing antibiotics by 62 per cent.

Additionally prescribing rates also fell for upper respiratory tract infections (e.g. colds, influenza, and throat, ear and sinus infections). These infections were not targeted by the intervention, which suggests that further modifications could be made to the internet training to better address these conditions, which would maximise the impact of training.

Professor Little adds: "These interventions have shown that providing interactive training methods using the internet to modify antibiotic prescribing is remarkably effective. Moreover the internet-based training programmes are transferrable between very different settings."

Explore further: Shared decision-making between doctors and patients can reduce antibiotic use

More information: Effects of internet-based training on antibiotic prescribing rates for acute respiratory tract infections: a multinational, cluster, randomised, factorial, controlled trial, The Lancet, 2013.

Related Stories

Better communication reduces prescriptions for antibiotics

April 2, 2013

(HealthDay)—Neither C-reactive protein testing nor enhanced physician communication training resulted in reduced office visits, but enhanced communication training resulted in less prescribing for antibiotics for respiratory ...

Recommended for you

Monkeys in Asia harbor virus from humans, other species

November 19, 2015

When it comes to spreading viruses, bats are thought to be among the worst. Now a new study of nearly 900 nonhuman primates in Bangladesh and Cambodia shows that macaques harbor more diverse astroviruses, which can cause ...

One-step test for hepatitis C virus infection developed

November 14, 2015

UC Irvine Health researchers have developed a cost-effective one-step test that screens, detects and confirms hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections. Dr. Ke-Qin Hu, director of hepatology services, will present findings at the ...

Computer model reveals deadly route of Ebola outbreak

November 10, 2015

Using a novel statistical model, a research team led by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health mapped the spread of the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, providing the most detailed picture to date ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.