Reducing antibiotic use for acute bronchitis in primary care: Blinded, randomised controlled trial of patient information leaflet

John Macfarlane, William Holmes, Philip Gard, David Thornhill, Rosamund Macfarlane, Richard Hubbard

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

159 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: To assess whether sharing the uncertainty of the value of antibiotics for acute bronchitis in the form of written and verbal advice affects the likelihood of patients taking antibiotics. Design: Nested, single blind, randomised controlled trial. Setting: Three suburban general practices in Nottingham. Participants: 259 previously well adults presenting with acute bronchitis. Intervention: In group A, 212 patients were judged by their general practitioner not to need antibiotics that day but were given a prescription to use if they got worse and standard verbal reassurance. Half of them (106) were also given an information leaflet. All patients in group B (47) were judged to need antibiotics and were given a prescription and encouraged to use it. Main outcome measures: Antibiotic use in the next two weeks. Reconsultation for the same symptoms in the next month. Results: In group A fewer patients who received the information leaflet took antibiotics compared with those who did not receive the leaflet (49 v 63, risk ratio 0.76, 95% confidence interval 0.59 to 0.97, P = 0.04). Numbers reconsulting were similar (11 v 14). In group B, 44 patients took the antibiotics. Conclusion: Most previously well adults with acute bronchitis were judged not to need antibiotics. Reassuring these patients and sharing the uncertainty about prescribing in a information leaflet supported by verbal advice is a safe strategy and reduces antibiotic use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-94
Number of pages4
JournalThe BMJ
Volume324
Issue number7329
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (all)

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