An association between socioeconomic deprivation and primary care antibiotic prescribing in Scotland

J Antimicrob Chemother. 2014 Mar;69(3):835-41. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkt439. Epub 2013 Oct 31.


Objective: To evaluate the association between socioeconomic deprivation and antibiotic prescribing in Scotland.

Patients and methods: Data for dispensed antibiotic prescriptions written by general practitioners were obtained for all Scottish National Health Service boards from 2010 to 2012. Deprivation was assessed linking dispensing events to the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) score for the patient's datazone (neighbourhood area). The relationship between the deprivation area and antibiotic use (items per 1000 persons per day) was stratified according to the patient's age and sex and the antibiotic class dispensed. A multivariate Poisson regression model was used to formally test the associations.

Results: Approximately 12 million prescription items during 2010-2012 were assessed. Patients in the most deprived SIMD quintile had an overall prescription rate that was 36.5% higher than those in the least deprived quintile. The effect of deprivation upon prescription rates was most pronounced for women aged 40-59 years, and for penicillins and metronidazole.

Conclusions: Deprivation was found to have a consistent association with increased rates of antibiotic prescribing in Scotland, which may have significant implications for antimicrobial stewardship and public health campaigns.

Keywords: Antimicrobial stewardship; database; public health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prescription Drugs / therapeutic use*
  • Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Scotland
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Prescription Drugs