Background: Imprudent prescribing of antibiotics in ambulatory care in Asia is of great concern. However, an adequate understanding of factors associated with antibiotic prescribing patterns in Asia has not been achieved.
Objective: Our aim was to identify patient and physician characteristics that influence antibiotic prescribing for adults with nasopharyngitis (common colds), upper respiratory tract infections (URIs) or bronchitis in Taiwan.
Methods: Generalized Estimating Equations (GEE) were used to analyze all 128,260 episodes of common colds, URIs and bronchitis generated by a random sample of 137,935 adult National Health Insurance (NHI) beneficiaries (> or = 18 years old) in Taiwan in 2000.
Results: Multivariate analysis results revealed substantial variations across different physician groups. Physician age and accreditation level of the physician's practice setting were the characteristics most associated with prescribing of antibiotics at the initial encounters for these episodes of care. Urban practising physicians (adjusted OR 1.69, 95% CI 1.29-2.21) and those who were self-dispensing or with on-site pharmacists (adjusted OR 1.32, 95% CI 1.19-1.46) were also higher prescribers of antibiotics for adults. Other significant physician predictors included physician specialty, patient volume, and ownership of practice setting.
Conclusions: Results suggest that both accessibility to updated medical information and economic incentives of the attending physician may shape prescribing of antibiotics in ambulatory care in Taiwan. Interventions should be developed to influence these modifiable factors to reduce antibiotic prescriptions of questionable value.