Antibiotics were examined in a study that reduced the number of prescriptions written. The study used a poster that showed a letter by a physician explaining the reason why writing prescriptions for antibiotics to treat upper respiratory problems is usually unnecessary and the doctor’s commitment to following certain guidelines for prescribing prescriptions. The letter was signed and included a picture of the doctor. The study was conducted in Los Angeles clinics and was posted in both English and Spanish.
14 doctors were randomly selected to participate in the 12-week study: seven of them were told to sign and put up the poster. Seven of them acted as the control group and told to follow their regular guidelines for prescribing medications. Eleven of the doctors were women and three of them were men; the average age of the participants was 45 and the average years the physicians practiced was 18 years.
449 patients were included in the group that used the sign and 505 were included in the control group. 77 percent of them were women whose average age was 48; their diagnoses ranged from 12 visits for severe nasopharyngitis or the common cold to 448 visits for severe upper respiratory tract infections. The researchers gathered the results by examining clinic records for three months and comparing both groups. The group that used the posters had a prescribing rate for inappropriate prescriptions of 43.5 percent and the control group’s rate was 42.8 percent. After the study, the control group’s rate rose to 52.7 percent and the other group’s rate decreased to 33.7 percent.
Physician Danielle Meeker and her colleagues who ran the study said that after comparing the two groups, she saw a 19.7 percent decrease. The rate of appropriate prescriptions written did not change and the codes physicians used for prescriptions and illnesses also did not change. Meeker, a fellow at the University of South Carolina Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics, also explains that the results from the study supported the hypothesis that doctors are influenced by both other physicians and social factors in caring for patients. She continues by saying that there was no piece of the results that proved that the rise was from changes in documenting practices.
The antibiotics study that reduced the number of prescriptions written also examined the psychological principle of public commitment. This principle explains that people are more likely to follow a course of action if they and other people have publicly said that they will do it. Researchers hoped that a study that uses internal motivators would be a better and more subtle approach instead of outside teaching programs or penalties such as removing the ability to be paid for writing prescriptions if a physician has written an excessive amount.
Doctors were challenged in a study that examined antibiotics and reducing the number of prescriptions written. The study used a poster that explained why it is unnecessary to prescribe antibiotics for acute respiratory infections; it was signed by the doctor and included a picture of the physician. The results of the study showed a decrease in the number of prescriptions written. Aside from the positive results, this study will help future doctors reduce the number of unnecessary prescriptions they write.
By Jordan Bonte
Family Practice News