Providing patient information leaflets about common infections during GP consultations may reduce antibiotic prescriptions.

Reviewers from the Netherlands examined whether providing leaflets could reduce the demand for antibiotics for common infections in general practice. Two bibliographic databases were searched and eight studies were included, seven of which were randomised. Five studies investigated giving leaflets during consultations for respiratory tract infections, one focused on conjunctivitis, one on urinary tract infections and one on gastroenteritis and tonsillitis. Three out of the four studies that contained data about antibiotic use found significant reductions in prescriptions amongst people who received leaflets (relative risk varied from 0.53 to 0.96). There were mixed effects on the rate of follow-up consultations. One large study found lower reconsultation rates, two studies found no effect and one study suggested increased reconsultation rates.

Reference: de Bont EG, Alink M, Falkenberg FC, Dinant GJ, Cals JW. Patient information leaflets to reduce antibiotic use and reconsultation rates in general practice: a systematic review. BMJ Open. 2015. 3(6): e007612

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