This site is intended for health professionals only

Online training slashes antibiotic prescription rate

Internet-based training could significantly lower antibiotic prescribing rates, helping in the fight against antibiotic resistance. 

A study published in The Lancet found that using an internet-based programme could reduce prescribing rates by up to 62%. 

Researchers from the University of Southampton found that when clinicians were given training on C-reactive protein (CRP) tests or enhanced communication skills, prescription rates dropped. 

The researchers compared the online tests with usual care for upper and lower respiratory tract infections in six European countries. 

Paul Little, Professor of Primary Care Research at the University of Southampton, said: “The high volume of prescribing antibiotics in primary care is a major driver of antibiotic resistance, which is one of the great public health dangers of our time, and raises the real prospect of serious infections becoming untreatable. 

“Training has been shown to have a positive effect on lowering prescription rates but the way training has been delivered and its reliance on highly trained staff around centres of excellence severely limits the impact in everyday practice.” 

Professor Little believes that more “novel” techniques are needed to lead change at a national and international level. Ultimately he believes it could save a lot of money for the NHS. 

He added: “These interventions have shown that providing interactive training methods using the internet to modify antibiotic prescribing is remarkably effective. Moreover the internet-based training programmes are transferrable between very different primary care settings.”