Personalized prescription feedback to reduce antibiotic overuse in primary care: rationale and design of a nationwide pragmatic randomized trial

BMC Infect Dis. 2016 Aug 17;16:421. doi: 10.1186/s12879-016-1739-0.


Background: Antimicrobial resistance has become a serious worldwide public health problem and is associated with antibiotic overuses. Whether personalized prescription feedback to high antibiotic prescribers using routinely collected data can lower antibiotic use in the long run is unknown.

Methods: We describe the design and rationale of a nationwide pragmatic randomized controlled trial enrolling 2900 primary care physicians in Switzerland with high antibiotic prescription rates based on national reimbursement claims data. About 1450 physicians receive quarterly postal and online antibiotic prescription feedback over 24 months allowing a comparison of the individual prescription rates with peers. Initially, they also receive evidence based treatment guidelines. The 1450 physicians in the control group receive no information. The primary outcome is the amount of antibiotics prescribed over a one year-period, measured as defined daily doses per 100 consultations. Other outcomes include the amount of antibiotics prescribed to specific age groups (<6, 6 to 18, 19 to 65, >65 years), to male and female patients, in addition to prescriptions of specific antibiotic groups. Further analyses address disease-specific quality indicators for outpatient antibiotic prescriptions, the acceptance of the intervention, and the impact on costs.

Discussion: This trial investigates whether continuous personalized prescription feedback on a health system level using routinely collected health data reduces antibiotic overuse. The feasibility and applicability of a web-based interface for communication with primary care physicians is further assessed.

Trial registration: NCT01773824 (Date registered: August 24, 2012).

Keywords: Antibiotics; Prescription feedback; Primary care; Routinely collected health data.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Feedback
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outpatients / statistics & numerical data
  • Physicians
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / standards
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Pragmatic Clinical Trials as Topic*
  • Prescription Drug Overuse / prevention & control*
  • Primary Health Care
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*
  • Switzerland
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents

Associated data