Improving communication skills and using a new blood test will help doctors prescribe fewer antibiotics to patients, a new study has claimed.
The joint trial from Cardiff University found that GPs in primary care who underwent training in advanced communications skills and those who made use of a simple blood test prescribed fewer antibiotics for lower respiratory tract infections, which generally do not respond to antibiotics.
"As the problem of bacteria resistant to antibiotic treatment grows, researchers from around the world are seeking ways to improve the quality of antibiotic prescribing," the British Medical Journal quoted Professor Christopher Butler, Head of Department of Primary Care and Public Health at Cardiff University as saying.
"Conditions like acute bronchitis account for some 80percent of all lower respiratory tract infections and despite evidence of little or no benefit from antibiotics, the majority of these patients are still prescribed antibiotics," he added.
The trial evaluated an 'illness focussed' approach, where clinicians seek to better understand the patient's illness experience and communicate more effectively about management, and a 'disease focussed' approach, where clinicians focus on diagnosis, in this case, a simple point-of-care blood test.
"The results showed that 54pct of GPs practising according to usual care prescribed antibiotics, whereas 27pct of those who had been trained in the advanced communication and 31pct of the GPs who used the blood test methods did so," said Dr Kerry Hood, Director of the South East Wales Trials Unit.
"Only 23pct of GPs who were trained in the advanced communication skills and who used the blood test prescribed antibiotics.
"Importantly, the results showed that prescribing fewer antibiotics did not mean that patients were unwell for longer.
Patient's recovery and satisfaction with care were not compromised by GPs not prescribing their patient antibiotics," Hood added.