Objectives: To examine the non-biomedical reasons which make family doctors over-prescribe antibiotics for upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) in a mixed private/public Asian setting.
Methods: The questionnaire was sent to the members of the Hong Kong College of Family Physicians between August and December 2001.
Results: A total of 801 family doctors completed a postal questionnaire with an overall response rate of 65.0. A significant number of respondents (21.8) felt they might be prescribing antibiotics too often for URTI but the majority of them felt they were using antibiotics just a bit too often. Doctors who were older, more senior or in private practice were more likely to feel that they might be prescribing antibiotics too often. More than 50 of respondents thought that to satisfy the patient or his/her carer and fear of medicolegal problem if the patient deteriorates would make them very likely or likely to over-prescribe antibiotics for patients with URTIs. Public doctors might over-prescribe in order to save time, whereas private doctors might do so in order to keep patients in their practice.
Conclusion: The results showed that doctors with certain characteristics are more likely to over-prescribe antibiotics. Factors, other than biomedical ones, may play important roles in doctor's prescription of antibiotics for URTI.