Improving Management of Respiratory Tract Infections in Community Pharmacies and Promoting Antimicrobial Stewardship: A Cluster Randomised Control Trial with a Self-Report Behavioural Questionnaire and Process Evaluation

Pharmacy (Basel). 2020 Mar 19;8(1):44. doi: 10.3390/pharmacy8010044.


In England, 81% of all antibiotic prescriptions originate in primary care/community settings, of which up to 20% are thought to be inappropriate. Community pharmacies are often the first point of community contact for patients with suspected infections; providing an opportunity for community pharmacy teams to promote antimicrobial stewardship (AMS). The objective of the study was to improve the management of infections and antimicrobial stewardship in community pharmacies. The study methodology included a non-blinded cluster randomised control trial with pharmacy staff in 272 community pharmacies in England. The intervention arm received an AMS webinar and a patient facing respiratory tract infection (RTI) leaflet (TARGET TYI-RTI) for use in everyday practice for four weeks. The control arm received a webinar on how to participate in the study. The primary outcome was self-reported referrals to general practitioners (GPs). The secondary outcomes were; provision of self-care advice/ written information to patients, referrals to pharmacists, sign-posting to non-prescription medicines and common barriers and facilitators to advice-giving in community pharmacies. Ethics approval was granted by the Public Health England Research Ethics and Governance Group. 66.91% (182 of 272) of pharmacies provided 3649 patient consultation data reports across both arms. Use of the leaflet was associated with a lower likelihood of referrals to GPs for certain RTIs (p < 0.05) and a more frequent provision of self-care advice than the control (p = 0.06). Opportunities to deliver self-care advice were limited due to lack of time. Pharmacy staff had good motivation and capability for managing self-limiting infections but the opportunity to do so was a perceived barrier. Use of the TARGET leaflet facilitated pharmacy staff to give more self-care advice and decreased referrals to GPs.

Keywords: antibiotic pharmacist; behaviour change; evaluation; general practice; primary care; self-care.