Background: Interventions to promote prudent antibiotic prescribing by general practitioners (GPs) have often only been developed for use in one country. We aimed to develop an intervention which would be appropriate to implement in multiple European countries in order to offer greater benefit to practice whilst using fewer resources. The INTRO (INternet TRaining for antibiOtic use) intervention needed to deliver training to GPs in the use of C-Reactive Protein (CRP) near patient tests to help diagnose acute cough and in communication skills to help explain prescribing decisions to patients. We explored GPs' views on the initial version of INTRO to test acceptability and potentially increase applicability for use in multiple countries before the start of a randomised trial.
Method: 30 GPs from five countries (Belgium, England, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain), were interviewed using a "think aloud" approach. GPs were asked to work through the intervention and discuss their views on the content and format in relation to following the intervention in their own practice. GPs viewed the same intervention but versions were created in five languages. Data were coded using thematic analysis.
Results: GPs in all five countries reported the view that the intervention addressed an important topic, was broadly acceptable and feasible to use, and would be a useful tool to help improve clinical practice. However, GPs in the different countries identified aspects of the intervention that did not reflect their national culture or healthcare system. These included perceived differences in communication style used in the consultation, consultation length and the stage of illness at which patient typically presented.
Conclusion: An online intervention to support evidence-based use of antibiotics is acceptable and feasible to implement amongst GPs in multiple countries. However, tailoring of the intervention to suit national contexts was necessary by adding local information and placing more emphasis on the fact that GPs could select the communication skills they wished to use in practice. Using think aloud methods to complement the development of interventions is a powerful method to identify regional contextual barriers to intervention implementation.