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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU Finds Antibiotic Overprescribing More Likely among Some Groups Than Others

Antibiotic overprescribing was more common among tobacco users and patients lacking a college education, suggesting that patient education could be an effective approach to reducing unnecessary antibiotics, a study co-authored by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers shows.

In the study in the journal Open Forum Infectious Diseases, researchers from BUSPH and Boston Medical Center looked at prescriptions for acute respiratory tract infections (ARTIs), of which as many as 40 percent are believed to be prescribed unnecessarily. They sought to define factors associated with overprescribing, in order to improve practice.

The study found that hospital and community-practice visits had more antibiotic overprescribing than Emergency Department visits, and that the quartile of patients with the lowest level of college education had significantly greater overprescribing than the highest quartile. Also, current tobacco users were overprescribed more often than nonsmokers.

The study also found that while inappropriate overprescribing was high for patients treated in Emergency Departments, it was still significantly lower compared with other care settings, including community practices. “This may be because ED physicians are less likely to prescribe antibiotics to improve patient satisfaction with the visit, in contrast to office-based physicians, who have an ongoing relationship with the patient,” the authors said.

To read more about the study, go to: