Antibiotic prescribing quality for children in primary care: an observational study

Megan Rose Williams, Giles Greene*, Gurudutt Naik, Kathryn Hughes, Christopher C. Butler, Alastair D. Hay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)
252 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Overuse and inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics is driving antibiotic resistance. GPs often prescribe antibiotics for upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) in young children despite their marginal beneficial effects. Aim: To assess the quality of antibiotic prescribing for common infections in young children attending primary care and to investigate influencing factors. Design and setting: An observational, descriptive analysis, including children attending primary care sites in England and Wales. Method: The Diagnosis of Urinary Tract infection in Young children study collected data on 7163 children aged <5 years, presenting to UK primary care with an acute illness (<28 days). Data were compared with the European Surveillance of Antimicrobial Consumption Network (ESACNet) disease-specific quality indicators to assess prescribing for URTIs, tonsillitis, and otitis media, against ESAC-Net proposed standards. Non-parametric trend tests and χ2 tests assessed trends and differences in prescribing by level of deprivation, site type, and demographics. Results: Prescribing rates fell within the recommendations for URTIs but exceeded the recommended limits for tonsillitis and otitis media. The proportion of children receiving the recommended antibiotic was below standards for URTIs and tonsillitis, but within the recommended limits for otitis media. Prescribing rates increased as the level of deprivation decreased for all infections (P<0.05), and increased as the age of the child increased for URTIs and tonsillitis (P<0.05). There were no other significant trends or differences. Conclusion: The quality of antibiotic prescribing in this study was mixed and highlights the scope for future improvements. There is a need to assess further the quality of disease-specific antibiotic prescribing in UK primary care settings using data representative of routine clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e90-e96
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number667
Early online date25 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • Antibiotic prescribing
  • Children
  • ESAC-Net disease-specific quality indicators
  • Primary care
  • Respiratory tract infections


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