(HealthDay News) – A community-level intervention targeting residents and health care professionals can influence antibiotic prescribing for outpatients, according to a study published online Sept. 12 in BMJ.

Giulio Formoso, MPH, from the Emilia-Romagna Regional Agency for Health and Social Care in Bologna, Italy, and colleagues conducted a community-level controlled trial to examine whether a local public campaign could influence antibiotic prescribing for outpatients. Participants included an intervention group (1,150,000 residents of Modena and Parma in Northern Italy) and a control group (3,250,000 residents of the same provinces). In the intervention area, general practitioners and pediatricians participated in designing campaign messages which were disseminated mainly via posters, brochures, and advertisements, and a newsletter on antibiotic resistance targeted at doctors and pharmacists.

The researchers found that antibiotic prescribing was reduced in the intervention vs. the control area (−4.3%). The decrease was higher for β lactamase-resistant penicillins and lower for β lactamase-susceptible penicillins, in accordance with the newsletter content. In a district-level analysis with a two-month baseline period, the decrease in expenditure on antibiotics was not significant, but in sensitivity analyses using either a one-month baseline period or a more powered doctor-level analysis, it was significant. There was no difference between the intervention and control areas with respect to knowledge and attitudes of the target population about correct antibiotic use.

“A local low-cost information campaign targeted at citizens, combined with a newsletter on local antibiotic resistance targeted at doctors and pharmacists, was associated with significantly decreased total rates of antibiotic prescribing but did not affect the population’s knowledge and attitudes about antibiotic resistance,” the authors write.

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