UBC Theses and Dissertations
In search of improved approaches to antibiotic stewardship : can we explain variations in physician practice patterns related to outpatient infection management? McKay, Rachel Margaret
The discovery of antibiotics was one of the most significant advances in modern medicine; however, our reliance on antibiotics is threatened by the spread of resistance. Antibiotic resistance is a natural phenomenon that is exacerbated by selection pressure from antibiotic use. Where prescriptions are required for antibiotics, understanding prescribing behaviour is paramount. Guidelines recommend antibiotics for respiratory tract infections (RTIs) only when pneumonia or other serious complications are suspected. Urine cultures are recommended for complicated, but not uncomplicated, urinary tract infections (UTIs). The objectives of this thesis were to identify factors related to patients, physicians, and geographic regions associated with antibiotic use for RTIs, and urine culturing for UTI; and to explore the extent of variations in these practices across physicians. A systematic review of the literature was conducted to assess factors that have previously been empirically associated with antibiotic prescribing. Then, using linked administrative datasets, factors associated with antibiotic prescriptions for paediatric respiratory tract infection were analyzed. Urine culture data was subsequently linked in, to explore urine culturing practices. These analyses demonstrated that observed physician characteristics had a stronger influence on practice patterns that did differences in patient characteristics. In particular, physicians who had been in practice for longer tended to be more likely to prescribe antibiotics, and to order urine cultures. Physicians trained outside of Canada were more likely to prescribe, but less likely to order a urine culture. Female physicians were less likely to prescribe antibiotics, and more likely to order urine cultures. The variation between physicians that remained after accounting for observed characteristics was substantial. This research demonstrates some common features of physicians that are associated with antibiotic prescribing and urine culture use. However, the variation between physicians in practice styles is greater than the effects of these characteristics. These findings have implications for the design and implementation of antibiotic stewardship efforts to improve antibiotic use. For example, audit and feedback interventions and academic detailing have shown some promise, and may be particularly effective if targeted to physicians with higher prescribing or culturing practices. This thesis demonstrates the utility of administrative datasets in identifying such physicians.
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