Background: Shared decision making is an important component of patient-centred care. It is a set of communication and evidence-based practice skills that elicits patients' expectations, clarifies any misperceptions and discusses the best available evidence for benefits and harms of treatment. Acute respiratory infections (ARIs) are one of the most common reasons for consulting in primary care and obtaining prescriptions for antibiotics. However, antibiotics offer few benefits for ARIs, and their excessive use contributes to antibiotic resistance - an evolving public health crisis. Greater explicit consideration of the benefit-harm trade-off within shared decision making may reduce antibiotic prescribing for ARIs in primary care.
Objectives: To assess whether interventions that aim to facilitate shared decision making increase or reduce antibiotic prescribing for ARIs in primary care.
Search methods: We searched CENTRAL (2014, Issue 11), MEDLINE (1946 to November week 3, 2014), EMBASE (2010 to December 2014) and Web of Science (1985 to December 2014). We searched for other published, unpublished or ongoing trials by searching bibliographies of published articles, personal communication with key trial authors and content experts, and by searching trial registries at the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization.
Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) (individual level or cluster-randomised), which evaluated the effectiveness of interventions that promote shared decision making (as the focus or a component of the intervention) about antibiotic prescribing for ARIs in primary care.
Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently extracted and collected data. Antibiotic prescribing was the primary outcome, and secondary outcomes included clinically important adverse endpoints (e.g. re-consultations, hospital admissions, mortality) and process measures (e.g. patient satisfaction). We assessed the risk of bias of all included trials and the quality of evidence. We contacted trial authors to obtain missing information where available.
Main results: We identified 10 published reports of nine original RCTs (one report was a long-term follow-up of the original trial) in over 1100 primary care doctors and around 492,000 patients.The main risk of bias came from participants in most studies knowing whether they had received the intervention or not, and we downgraded the rating of the quality of evidence because of this.We meta-analysed data using a random-effects model on the primary and key secondary outcomes and formally assessed heterogeneity. Remaining outcomes are presented narratively.There is moderate quality evidence that interventions that aim to facilitate shared decision making reduce antibiotic use for ARIs in primary care (immediately after or within six weeks of the consultation), compared with usual care, from 47% to 29%: risk ratio (RR) 0.61, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.55 to 0.68. Reduction in antibiotic prescribing occurred without an increase in patient-initiated re-consultations (RR 0.87, 95% CI 0.74 to 1.03, moderate quality evidence) or a decrease in patient satisfaction with the consultation (OR 0.86, 95% CI 0.57 to 1.30, low quality evidence). There were insufficient data to assess the effects of the intervention on sustained reduction in antibiotic prescribing, adverse clinical outcomes (such as hospital admission, incidence of pneumonia and mortality), or measures of patient and caregiver involvement in shared decision making (such as satisfaction with the consultation; regret or conflict with the decision made; or treatment compliance following the decision). No studies assessed antibiotic resistance in colonising or infective organisms.
Authors' conclusions: Interventions that aim to facilitate shared decision making reduce antibiotic prescribing in primary care in the short term. Effects on longer-term rates of prescribing are uncertain and more evidence is needed to determine how any sustained reduction in antibiotic prescribing affects hospital admission, pneumonia and death.