Objectives: To complement analyses of the linear trend and seasonal fluctuation of European outpatient antibiotic use expressed in defined daily doses (DDD) by analyses of data in packages, to assess the agreement between both measures and to study changes in the number of DDD per package over time.
Methods: Data on outpatient antibiotic use, aggregated at the level of the active substance (WHO version 2011) were collected from 2000 to 2007 for 31 countries and expressed in DDD and packages per 1000 inhabitants per day (DID and PID, respectively). Data expressed in DID and PID were analysed separately using non-linear mixed models while the agreement between these measurements was analysed through a joint non-linear mixed model. The change in DDD per package over time was studied with a linear mixed model.
Results: Total outpatient antibiotic and penicillin use in Europe and their seasonal fluctuation significantly increased in DID, but not in PID. The use of combinations of penicillins significantly increased in DID and in PID. Broad-spectrum penicillin use did not increase significantly in DID and decreased significantly in PID. For all but one subgroup, country-specific deviations moved in the same direction whether measured in DID or PID. The correlations are not perfect. The DDD per package increased significantly over time for all but one subgroup.
Conclusions: Outpatient antibiotic use in Europe shows contrasting trends, depending on whether DID or PID is used as the measure. The increase of the DDD per package corroborates the recommendation to adopt PID to monitor outpatient antibiotic use in Europe.
Keywords: ambulatory care; antibiotic consumption; dose change; non-linear mixed model.
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