Primary care clinicians' perceptions about antibiotic prescribing for acute bronchitis: a qualitative study

BMC Fam Pract. 2014 Dec 12;15:194. doi: 10.1186/s12875-014-0194-5.

Abstract

Background: Clinicians prescribe antibiotics to over 65% of adults with acute bronchitis despite guidelines stating that antibiotics are not indicated.

Methods: To identify and understand primary care clinician perceptions about antibiotic prescribing for acute bronchitis, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 13 primary care clinicians in Boston, Massachusetts and used thematic content analysis.

Results: All the participants agreed with guidelines that antibiotics are not indicated for acute bronchitis and felt that clinicians other than themselves were responsible for overprescribing. Barriers to guideline adherence included 6 themes: (1) perceived patient demand, which was the main barrier, although some clinicians perceived a recent decrease; (2) lack of accountability for antibiotic prescribing; (3) saving time and money; (4) other clinicians' misconceptions about acute bronchitis; (5) diagnostic uncertainty; and (6) clinician dissatisfaction in failing to meet patient expectations. Strategies to decrease inappropriate antibiotic prescribing included 5 themes: (1) patient educational materials; (2) quality reporting; (3) clinical decision support; (4) use of an over-the-counter prescription pad; and (5) pre-visit triage and education by nurses to prevent visits.

Conclusions: Clinicians continued to cite patient demand as the main reason for antibiotic prescribing for acute bronchitis, though some clinicians perceived a recent decrease. Clinicians felt that other clinicians were responsible for inappropriate antibiotic prescribing and that better pre-visit triage by nurses could prevent visits and change patients' expectations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Bronchitis / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Physicians, Primary Care*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Qualitative Research

Substances

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents