PURPOSE: To determine whether acute respiratory infection (ARI) decision aids and a general practitioner (GP) training package reduces antibiotic dispensing rate and improves GPs' knowledge of antibiotic benefit-harm evidence.
METHODS: A cluster randomized trial of 27 Australian general practices (13 intervention, 14 control) involving 122 GPs. Intervention group GPs were given brief decision aids for 3 ARIs (acute otitis media, acute sore throat, acute bronchitis) and video-delivered training. Primary outcome was dispensing rate of target antibiotic classes (routinely used for ARIs), extracted for 12 months before, and following, randomization. Secondary outcomes were GPs' knowledge of antibiotic benefit-harm evidence; prescribing influences; acceptability, usefulness, and self-reported resource use; and dispensing rate of all antibiotics.
RESULTS: The baseline mean dispensing rate of ARI-related antibiotics was 3.5% (intervention GPs) and 3.2% (control GPs) of consultations. After 12 months, mean rates decreased (to 2.9% intervention; 2.6% control): an 18% relative reduction from baseline but similar in both groups (rate ratio 1.01; 95% CI, 0.89-1.15). Greater increases in knowledge were seen in the intervention group than control; a significant increase (average 3.6; 95% CI, 2.4-4.7, P <.001) in the number of correct responses to the 22 knowledge questions. There were no between-group differences for other secondary outcomes. The intervention was well received, perceived as useful, and reported as used by about two-thirds of intervention GPs.
CONCLUSIONS: A brief shared decision-making intervention provided to GPs did not reduce antibiotic dispensing more than usual care, although GPs' knowledge of relevant benefit-harm evidence increased significantly.