Antibiotic prescribing to Kentucky Medicaid children, 2012-2017: Prescribing is higher in rural areas

J Rural Health. 2022 Mar;38(2):427-432. doi: 10.1111/jrh.12584. Epub 2021 May 12.


Purpose: Antibiotic resistance is a major public health threat. Antibiotic use is the main driver of resistance, with children and the state of Kentucky having particularly high rates of outpatient antibiotic prescribing. The purpose of this study was to describe patient and provider characteristics associated with pediatric antibiotic use in Kentucky Medicaid children.

Methods: We used Medicaid prescription claims data from 2012 to 2017 to describe patterns of pediatric antibiotic receipt in Kentucky. Patient and provider variables were analyzed to identify variations in prescribing.

Findings: Children who were female, less than 2 years old, White, and living in a rural area had consistently higher rates of antibiotic prescriptions. There was significant geographic variability in prescribing, with children in Eastern Kentucky receiving more than 3 courses of antibiotics a year. Most antibiotic prescriptions for children were written by general practitioners and nurse practitioners rather than pediatricians.

Conclusion: These findings support the need for extensive antibiotic stewardship efforts inclusive of rural outpatient practices.

Keywords: Medicaid; antibiotic stewardship; antibiotic use; health services research; rural children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Antimicrobial Stewardship*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kentucky
  • Male
  • Medicaid
  • United States


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents