Focus on early-career GPs: qualitative evaluation of a multi-faceted educational intervention to improve antibiotic prescribing

Fam Pract. 2018 Jan 16;35(1):99-104. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmx074.


Background: We conducted an educational intervention emphasizing rational antibiotic prescribing in early-career General Practitioners (GP) in vocational training (trainees). The intervention consisted of an online introduction module, an online communication training module, face-to-face workshops, and cases to be discussed one-on-one by the trainee-supervisor dyad during regular scheduled education sessions.

Objectives: To explore the participants' experiences with the intervention.

Methods: A qualitative study of 14 GP trainees and supervisors. Interviews followed a semi-structured interview guide, were transcribed and analysed using concurrent thematic analysis.

Results: Overall, the intervention was well received. Resources were not often used in practice, but GP trainees used the information in communicating with patients. The intervention improved trainees' confidence and provided new communication strategies, e.g. explicitly asking about patients' expectations and talking patients through the examination to form an overall clinical picture. Trainees seemed eager to learn and adapt their practice, whereas GP supervisors rather commented that the intervention was reinforcing. None of the participants reported prescribing conflicts between trainee and supervisor. However, most participants identified conflicts within the GP practice or with specialists: other doctors who prescribe more antibiotics perpetuate patients' ideas that antibiotics will fix everything, which in turn causes conflict with the patient and undermines attempts to improve antibiotic prescribing.

Conclusion: The educational intervention was received positively. Early-career GPs thought it influenced their prescribing behaviour and improved their confidence in non-prescribing. Interventions that target teams (e.g. entire practice) could minimize conflict, ensure consistency of messages and support overall antibiotic stewardship in primary care.

Keywords: anti-bacterial agents; education; general practice; microbial drug resistance; qualitative research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Australia
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial*
  • Female
  • General Practice / education*
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Inappropriate Prescribing / prevention & control*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / standards
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration
  • Qualitative Research


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents

Associated data

  • ANZCTR/ACTRN12614001209684