Time series analysis of the impact of an intervention in Tayside, Scotland to reduce primary care broad-spectrum antimicrobial use

J Antimicrob Chemother. 2015 Aug;70(8):2397-404. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkv095. Epub 2015 May 7.


Objectives: Concern about Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) and resistance has driven interventions internationally to reduce broad-spectrum antimicrobial use. An intervention combining guidelines, education and feedback was implemented in Tayside, Scotland in 2009 aiming to reduce primary care prescribing of co-amoxiclav, cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones and clindamycin ('4C antimicrobials'). Our aim was to assess the impact of this real-world intervention on antimicrobial prescribing rates.

Methods: We used interrupted time series with segmented regression analysis to examine associations between the intervention and changes in antimicrobial prescribing (quarterly rates of patients exposed to 4C antimicrobials, non-4C antimicrobials and any antimicrobial in 2005-12).

Results: The intervention was associated with a highly significant and sustained decrease in 4C antimicrobial prescribing, by 33.5% (95% CI -26.1 to -40.9), 42.2% (95% CI -34.2 to -50.2) and 55.5% (95% CI -45.9 to -65.1) at 6, 12 and 24 months after intervention, respectively. The effect was seen across all age groups, with the largest reductions in people aged 65 years and over (58.4% reduction at 24 months, 95% CI -46.7 to -70.1) and care home residents (65.6% reduction at 24 months, 95% CI -51.8 to -79.4). There were balancing increases in doxycycline, nitrofurantoin and trimethoprim prescribing as well as a reduction in macrolide prescribing. Total antimicrobial exposure did not change.

Conclusions: A real-world intervention to reduce primary care prescribing of antimicrobials associated with CDI led to large, sustained reductions in the targeted prescribing, largely due to substitution with guideline-recommended antimicrobials rather than by avoiding antimicrobial use altogether. Further research is needed to examine the impact on antimicrobial resistance.

Keywords: family practice; interrupted time series studies; quality of healthcare.

Publication types

  • Clinical Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clostridioides difficile / drug effects
  • Clostridium Infections / chemically induced
  • Clostridium Infections / microbiology
  • Clostridium Infections / prevention & control
  • Drug Prescriptions / standards*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Drug Utilization / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Interrupted Time Series Analysis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Scotland
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents