Evidence-based primary care treatment guidelines for skin infections in Europe: A comparative analysis

E.M.E. van Bijnen*, J. Paget, C.D.J. den Heijer, E.E. Stobberingh, C.A. Bruggeman, F.G. Schellevis, the APRES study team

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: In Europe, most antibiotics for human use are prescribed in primary care. Incorporating resistance data into treatment guidelines could improve appropriate prescribing, increase treatment effectiveness and control the development of resistance. Objectives: This study reviews primary care treatment guidelines for bacterial skin infections across Europe and assesses to what extent they are based on antibiotic resistance data. Methods: Thirteen primary care treatment guidelines were obtained from eight countries across Europe. Both the treatment recommendations and the underlying evidence were assessed. The class and dose of recommended antibiotics were investigated and compared using the World Health Organisation's standardized volume of Defined Daily Dose. Furthermore, analysis investigated whether guidelines included references to scientific publications about antibiotic resistance data, and whether these were of national origin. Results: Guidelines were included regarding common skin infections in primary care: Impetigo, Cellulitis, Erysipelas, Folliculitis and Furuncle. Results showed a high agreement across Europe: all recommended antibiotics are of the beta-lactam class and mainly in the small spectrum. The advised treatment durations are consistent; the dosages, however, vary considerably, with the highest dosages recommended in Sweden. Seven guidelines (54%) did not include scientific references related to resistance. Conclusion: There may be a lack of relevant national data on resistance. This study highlights the need to collect more national resistance data (particularly regarding beta-lactams) to create stronger evidence-based treatment guidelines for skin infections in Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-300
JournalEuropean Journal of General Practice
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

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