Provision of social norms feedback to general practices whose antibiotic prescribing is increasing: A national randomized controlled trial

Natalie Gold, Michael Ratajczak, Anna Sallis, Ayoub Saei, Robin Watson, Paul Van Schaik, Sarah Bowen, Tim Chadborn

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Abstract

Abstract: Aim: The Chief Medical Officer of England writes an annual social-norms-feedback letter to the highest antibiotic-prescribing GP practices. We investigated whether sending a social-norms-feedback letter to practices whose prescribing was increasing would reduce prescribing. Subject and methods: We conducted a two-armed randomised controlled trial amongst practices whose STAR-PU-adjusted prescribing was in the 20th–95th percentiles and had increased by > 4% year-on-year in the 2 previous financial years. Intervention practices received a letter on 1st March 2018 stating ‘The great majority (80%) of practices in England reduced or stabilised their antibiotic prescribing rates in 2016/17. However, your practice is in the minority that have increased their prescribing by more than 4%.’. Control practices received no letter. The primary outcome was the STAR-PU-adjusted rate of antibiotic prescribing in the months from March to September 2018. Results: We randomly assigned 930 practices; ten closed or merged pre-trial, leaving 920 practices — 448 in the intervention and 472 in the control. An autoregressive and moving average model of first order ARMA(1,1) correlation structure showed no effect of the intervention (β < −0.01, z = −0.50, p = 0.565). Prescribing reduced over time in both arms (β < −0.01, z = −36.36, p < 0.001). Conclusions: A social-norms-feedback letter to practices whose prescribing was increasing did not decrease prescribing compared to no letter. Trial registration: NCT03582072.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2351-2358
JournalJournal of Public Health
Volume30
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Dec 2021

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