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The University of Southampton

Research project: UNderstanding medIcal and non-medical anTibiotic prescribing for rEspiratory tract infections in primary care out of hours services: a qualitative analysis (The UNITE Study) - Dormant

Currently Active: 

This study is now complete.  

In light of the increase in antibiotic prescribing for Respiratory Tract Infections (RTI) in primary care out of hours (OOH) services the study aims to explore medical and non-medical prescriber’s views on and experiences of prescribing antibiotics for RTI in primary care OOH services.

Respiratory tract infections (RTIs) (cough, sore throat, sinusitis, ear infection, and cold) are usually short-lived and are rarely serious. Research shows that antibiotics are not very effective in treating RTI’s and people usually recover well without them. Still, antibiotics are often prescribed in primary care out of hours services (6.30pm-8am). This is not best practice because the overuse of antibiotics has been linked to bacterial resistance. To ensure we still have effective antibiotics in the future unnecessary prescribing needs to be reduced.

Delayed or ‘just in case’ prescribing of antibiotics can help reduce their use. This means the patient is offered a prescription but it is recommended they ‘delay’ taking it for a few days to allow the condition to improve on its own/take it if the condition worsens. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommend that health care professionals who prescribe use this approach. However, research has shown that some General Practitioners (GPs) and Nurse Prescribers (NPs) do not like to use this ‘just in case’ approach. In most cases, no antibiotic is needed, but a delayed prescription is likely to provide benefits in comparison to an immediate antibiotic prescription. To date, research has looked at staff who work ‘in-hours’, usually between 7am-7pm.

The proposed study will conduct qualitative interviews with GPs and NPs based in primary care out of hours (OOH) services to identify experiences of and views on prescribing antibiotics for RTI OOH. Findings will be used in a follow on study to develop and test new ways of managing their prescribing decisions to help reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions.

Lead Investigators: Dr Geraldine Leydon and Mrs Samantha Williams

Duration: 1st October 2015 – 31st September 2016

Funder: NIHR School for Primary Care Research



Related research groups

Primary Care, Population Sciences and Medical Education


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