Determinants of the Empiric Use of Antibiotics by General Practitioners in South Africa: Observational, Analytic, Cross-Sectional Study

Sinenhlanhla Pearl Guma, Brian Godman*, Stephen M. Campbell, Ozayr Mahomed

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The overuse of antibiotics is the main driver of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). However, there has been limited surveillance data on AMR and antibiotic prescribing at a primary healthcare level in South Africa. An observational, analytic, cross-sectional study was undertaken to assess key factors associated with empiric antibiotic prescribing among private sector general practitioners (GPs) in the eThekwini district in South Africa, particularly for patients with acute respiratory infections (ARIs). A semi-structured web-based questionnaire was used between November 2020–March 2021. One hundred and sixteen (55.5%) responding GPs prescribed antibiotics empirically for patients with ARIs more than 70% of the time, primarily for symptom relief and the prevention of complications. GPs between the ages of 35–44 years (OR: 3.38; 95%CI: 1.15–9.88), >55 years (OR: 4.75; 95% CI 1.08–21) and in practice < 15 years (OR: 2.20; 95%CI: 1.08–4.51) were significantly more likely to prescribe antibiotics empirically. Three factors—workload/time pressures; diagnostic uncertainty, and the use of a formulary, were significantly associated with empiric prescribing. GPs with more experience and working alone were slightly less likely to prescribe antibiotics empirically. These findings indicate that a combination of environmental factors are important underlying contributors to the development of AMR. As a result, guide appropriate interventions using a health system approach, which includes pertinent prescribing indicators and targets.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1423
JournalAntibiotics
Volume11
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

Keywords

  • South Africa
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • diagnostic uncertainty
  • empiric antibiotic prescribing
  • general practitioners
  • guidelines

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