Factors associated with antibiotic prescribing for adults with acute conditions: an umbrella review across primary care and a systematic review focusing on primary dental care

J Antimicrob Chemother. 2019 Aug 1;74(8):2139-2152. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkz152.


Introduction: One way to slow the spread of resistant bacteria is by improved stewardship of antibiotics: using them more carefully and reducing the number of prescriptions. With an estimated 7%-10% of antibiotic prescriptions globally originating from dental practices and up to 80% prescribed unnecessarily, dentistry has an important role to play. To support the design of new stewardship interventions through knowledge transfer between contexts, this study aimed to identify factors associated with the decision to prescribe antibiotics to adults presenting with acute conditions across primary care (including dentistry).

Methods: Two reviews were undertaken: an umbrella review across primary healthcare and a systematic review in dentistry. Two authors independently selected and quality assessed the included studies. Factors were identified using an inductive thematic approach and mapped to the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF). Comparisons between dental and other settings were explored. Registration number: PROSPERO_CRD42016037174.

Results: Searches identified 689 publications across primary care and 432 across dental care. Included studies (nine and seven, respectively) were assessed as of variable quality. They covered 46 countries, of which 12 were low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Across the two reviews, 30 factors were identified, with 'patient/condition characteristics', 'patient influence' and 'guidelines & information' the most frequent. Two factors were unique to dental studies: 'procedure possible' and 'treatment skills'. No factor related only to LMICs.

Conclusions: A comprehensive list of factors associated with antibiotic prescribing to adults with acute conditions in primary care settings around the world has been collated and should assist theory-informed design of new context-specific stewardship interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease / therapy
  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antimicrobial Stewardship
  • Clinical Decision-Making
  • Dental Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents