A randomized clinical trial conducted in Switzerland found that regular audit and feedback did not reduce antibiotic prescribing among physicians with high prescribing rates, researchers reported today in JAMA Network Open.
To investigate the effect of patient-level claims audit and feedback with peer benchmarking, Swiss investigators enrolled 3,426 primary care physicians and pediatricians who were among the top 75% prescribers of antibiotics. From Jan 1, 2018, through Dec 31, 2019, the participants were randomized 1:1 to undergo quarterly audit and feedback with peer benchmarking and receive evidence-based guidelines for respiratory and urinary tract infections and community-based antibiotic-resistance data (the intervention group) or no intervention (the control group), with 2017 as the baseline year. The primary outcome was the antibiotic prescribing rate per 100 consultations during the second year of the intervention.
The median annual antibiotic prescribing rates per 100 consultations in the year preceding the trial were 8.4 in the intervention group and 8.4 in the control group. A 4.2% relative increase in the antibiotic prescribing rate was observed in the entire cohort during the second year of the intervention compared with 2017, with a median annual antibiotic prescribing rate of 8.2 in the intervention group compared with 8.4 in the control group. Relative to the overall increase, a –0.1% (95% confidence interval CI, –1.2% to 1.0%) lower antibiotic prescribing rate per 100 consultations was found in the intervention group compared with the control group.
No relevant reductions in specific antibiotic prescribing rates in the second year of the intervention were noted between groups except for quinolones (–0.9%; 95% CI, –1.5% to –0.4%). Over the entire trial, antibiotic prescribing rates in the intervention group increased by 0.5% (95% CI, –0.2% to 1.3%) when compared with the control group.
"Whether health system–wide antibiotic stewardship programs with more individually tailored information on the appropriateness of antibiotic prescriptions, eventually combined with individual physician-targeted incentives, might achieve further reductions in antibiotic use should be evaluated in future trials," the investigators wrote.