Is it possible to decrease antibiotic prescribing in primary care? An analysis of outcomes in the management of patients with sore throats

Fam Pract. 2001 Feb;18(1):9-13. doi: 10.1093/fampra/18.1.9.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess whether it was possible to change clinical practice through the introduction of an evidence-based protocol for the management of sore throats. The impact of the changed clinical practice on patients was also assessed.

Method: An observational study was carried out comparing management of patients with sore throats in a semi-rural general practice (14 000 patients), before and after the introduction of an evidence-based protocol, using a multidisciplinary approach. All patients over the age of 2 years presenting with sore throats as their chief presenting complaint were included in the study which ran for two 6-month periods: February-July 1997 (n = 435) and February-July 1998 (n = 350). Antibiotic prescribing rates, consultation and reconsultation rates, duration of sore throat, analgesia requirements and satisfaction were assessed.

Results: Antibiotic prescribing was significantly reduced in period 2 (56% compared with 19%). Consultation rates decreased by 19% in period 2. Median number of days to recovery of sore throats was the same in both groups. Reconsultation rates and dissatisfaction rates were the same in both groups.

Conclusion: Using a multidisciplinary approach, it is possible to reduce antibiotic prescribing for sore throats significantly without adversely affecting outcome.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Drug Utilization
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Family Practice*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pharyngitis / drug therapy*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents