Behavioural interventions to address rational use of antibiotics in outpatient settings of low-income and lower-middle-income countries

M.M. Nair*, R. Mahajan, S. Burza, M.P. Zeegers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review

6 Citations (Web of Science)


Objectives To explore the current evidence on interventions to influence antibiotic prescribing behaviour of health professionals in outpatient settings in low-income and lower-middle-income countries, an underrepresented area in the literature.Methods The systematic review protocol for this study was registered in PROSPERO (CRD42020170504). We searched PubMed, Embase and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) for studies relating to antibiotic prescribing of health professionals in outpatient settings in low-income and lower-middle-income countries. Behavioural interventions were classified as persuasive, enabling, restrictive, structural or bundle (mix of different interventions). In total, 3,514 abstracts were screened and 42 studies were selected for full-text review, with 13 studies included in the final narrative synthesis.Results Of the 13 included studies, five were conducted in Vietnam, two in Sudan, two in Tanzania, two in India and two in Kenya. All studies were conducted in the outpatient or ambulatory setting: eight took place in primary health centres, two in private clinics and three in pharmacies. Our review found that enabling or educational interventions alone may not be sufficient to overcome the ingrained incentives to link revenue generation to sales of antibiotics, and hence, their inappropriate prescription or misuse. Bundle interventions appear to be very effective at changing prescription behaviour among healthcare providers, including drug sellers and pharmacists.Conclusions Multi-faceted bundle interventions that combine regulation enforcement with face-to-face education and peer influence may be more effective than educational interventions alone at curbing inappropriate antibiotic use.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)504-517
Number of pages14
JournalTropical Medicine & International Health
Issue number5
Early online date16 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • antibiotic resistance
  • systematic review
  • behavioural

Cite this