Importance: Feedback interventions using routinely collected health data might reduce antibiotic use nationwide without requiring the substantial resources and structural efforts of other antibiotic stewardship programs.
Objective: To determine if quarterly antibiotic prescription feedback over 2 years reduces antibiotic use when implemented in a complex health care system.
Design, setting, and participants: Pragmatic randomized trial using routinely collected claims data on 2900 primary care physicians with the highest antibiotic prescription rates in Switzerland.
Interventions: Physicians were randomized to quarterly updated personalized antibiotic prescription feedback over 2 years (n = 1450) or usual care (n = 1450). Feedback was provided both by mail and online from October 2013 to October 2015 and was supported by an initial 1-time provision of evidence-based guidelines.
Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcome was the prescribed defined daily doses (DDD) of any antibiotic to any patient per 100 consultations in the first year analyzed by intention-to-treat. We further analyzed prescriptions of specific antibiotics, age groups, and sex for the first and second year to investigate persistency of effects over time.
Results: The 2900 physicians had 10 660 124 consultations over 2 years of follow-up, prescribed 1 175 780 packages of antibiotics with 10 290 182 DDD. Physicians receiving feedback prescribed the same amount of antibiotics to all patients in the first year (between-group difference, 0.81%; 95% CI, -2.56% to 4.30%; P = .64) and second year (between-group difference, -1.73%; 95% CI, -5.07% to 1.72%; P = .32) compared with the control group. Prescribing to children aged 6 to 18 years was -8.61% lower in the feedback than in the control group in the first year (95% CI, -14.87% to -1.90%; P = .01). This difference diminished in the second year (between-group difference, -4.10%; 95% CI, -10.78% to 3.07%; P = .25). Physicians receiving feedback prescribed fewer antibiotics to adults aged 19 to 65 years in the second year (between-group difference, -4.59%; 95% CI, -7.91% to -1.16%; P < .01). Prescribing to other patient groups or of specific antibiotic types was not significantly different between groups.
Conclusions and relevance: This nationwide antibiotic stewardship program with routine feedback on antibiotic prescribing was not associated with a change of antibiotic use. In older children, adolescents, and younger adults less antibiotics were prescribed, but not consistently over the entire intervention period.
Trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01773824.