Does shared decision-making reduce antibiotic prescribing in primary care?

Thamar E. M. van Esch*, Anne E. M. Brabers, Karin Hek, Liset van Dijk, Robert A. Verheij, Judith D. de Jong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Increasing antibiotic resistance is recognized as a major threat to global health and is related to antibiotic prescription rates in primary care. Shared decision-making (SDM), the process in which patients and doctors participate together in making decisions, is argued to possibly promote more appropriate use of antibiotics and reduce prescribing. However, it is unknown whether in practice fewer antibiotics are prescribed where more SDM takes place. Objectives: To investigate whether more SDM is related to less antibiotic prescribing and whether this relationship differs between subgroups of patients (male/female and age groups). Patients and methods: A questionnaire survey was conducted among 2670 members of the Dutch Health Care Consumer Panel to measure SDM (response rate 45%). Average practice-level SDM scores were calculated for 15 general practices. Data from routine electronic health records of 8192 adult patients of these general practices participating in the Nivel Primary Care Database were used to assess relevant illness episodes (acute cough, acute rhinosinusitis and urinary tract infection), the indication for antibiotics and antibiotic prescriptions. Logistic multilevel regression analyses were performed to investigate the relationship between practice-level SDM and patient-level antibiotic prescriptions. Results: In practices where more SDM takes place, general practitioners prescribed fewer antibiotics for adult patients under the age of 40 years in preference-sensitive situations (i.e. situations in which antibiotics could be considered according to clinical guidelines). Conclusions: SDM can be a framework to reduce the prescribing of antibiotics and thus to control antibiotic resistance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3199-3205
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018




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