Background: Antibiotic prescribing in dentistry accounts for 9% of total antibiotic prescriptions in Scottish primary care. The Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) published guidance in April 2008 (2nd edition, August 2011) for Drug Prescribing in Dentistry, which aims to assist dentists to make evidence-based antibiotic prescribing decisions. However, wide variation in prescribing persists and the overall use of antibiotics is increasing.
Methods: RAPiD is a 12-month partial factorial cluster randomised trial conducted in NHS General Dental Practices across Scotland. Its aim is to compare the effectiveness of individualised audit and feedback (A&F) strategies for the translation into practice of SDCEP recommendations on antibiotic prescribing. The trial uses routinely collected electronic healthcare data in five aspects of its design in order to: identify the study population; apply eligibility criteria; carry out stratified randomisation; generate the trial intervention; analyse trial outcomes. Eligibility was determined on contract status and a minimum level of recent NHS treatment provision. All eligible dental practices in Scotland were simultaneously randomised at baseline either to current audit practice or to an intervention group. Randomisation was stratified by single-handed/multi-handed practices. General dental practitioners (GDPs) working at intervention practices will receive individualised graphical representations of their antibiotic prescribing rate from the previous 14 months at baseline and an update at six months. GDPs could not be blinded to their practice allocation. Intervention practices were further randomised using a factorial design to receive feedback with or without: a health board comparator; a supplementary text-based intervention; additional feedback at nine months. The primary outcome is the total antibiotic prescribing rate per 100 courses of treatment over the year following delivery of the baseline intervention. A concurrent qualitative process evaluation will apply theory-based approaches using the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research to explore the acceptability of the interventions and the Theoretical Domains Framework to identify barriers and enablers to evidence-based antibiotic prescribing behaviour by GDPs.
Discussion: RAPiD will provide a robust evaluation of A&F in dentistry in Scotland. It also demonstrates that linked administrative datasets have the potential to be used efficiently and effectively across all stages of an randomised controlled trial.
Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN49204710.