Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Prescribing Patterns of First-Line Antibiotics in English Primary Care: A Longitudinal Analysis of National Prescribing Dataset

Alisha Zubair Hussain, Vibhu Paudyal, Muhammad Abdul Hadi

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Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted on public access to health services. This study aimed to investigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on commonly prescribed first-line antibiotics in English primary care. A secondary analysis of publicly available government data pertaining to primary care prescribing was conducted. A list of twenty first-line antibiotics used to treat common infections was developed following the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines. All primary care prescription and cost data pertaining to commonly prescribed first-line antibiotics in England between March and September of 2018-2020 were extracted and adjusted for inflation. Analysis suggests prescribing of antibiotics significantly reduced by 15.99% (p = 0.018) and 13.5% (p = 0.002) between March and September 2020 compared with same time period for 2018 and 2019, respectively. The most noticeable decrease in 2020 was noticed for prescribing for meningitis (-62.3%; p = 0.002) followed by respiratory tract infections (-39.13%; p = 0.035), in terms of indications. These results are suggestive of reduced transmission of infections in the community due to national lockdowns, social distancing and hygiene practices. In addition, the impact of reduced face-to-face consultations in general practices needs to be investigated as a potential reason for reduced prescribing. The pandemic also offers an opportunity to rationalize antibiotics use in the community.

Original languageEnglish
Article number591
JournalAntibiotics
Volume10
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • antibiotics
  • prescribing

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