Clinical indications for antibiotic use in Danish general practice: results from a nationwide electronic prescription database

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Objective: To assess the availability and applicability of clinical indications from electronic prescriptions on antibiotic use in Danish general practice.

Design: Retrospective cohort register-based study including the Danish National Prescription Register.

Setting: Population-based study of routine electronic antibiotic prescriptions from Danish general practice.

Subjects: All 975,626 patients who redeemed an antibiotic prescription at outpatient pharmacies during the 1-year study period (July 2012 to June 2013).

Main outcome measures: Number of prescriptions per clinical indication. Number of antibiotic prescriptions per 1000 inhabitants by age and gender. Logistic regression analysis estimated the association between patient and provider factors and missing clinical indications on antibiotic prescriptions.

Results: A total of 2.381.083 systemic antibiotic prescriptions were issued by Danish general practitioners in the study period. We identified three main clinical entities: urinary tract infections (n = 506.634), respiratory tract infections (n = 456.354) and unspecified infections (n = 416.354). Women were more exposed to antibiotics than men. Antibiotic use was high in children under 5 years and even higher in elderly people. In 32% of the issued prescriptions, the clinical indication was missing. This was mainly associated with antibiotic types. We found that a prescription for a urinary tract agent without a specific clinical indication was uncommon.

Conclusion: Clinical indications from electronic prescriptions are accessible and available to provide an overview of drug use, in casu antibiotic prescriptions, in Danish general practice. These clinical indications may be further explored in detail to assess rational drug use and congruence with guidelines, but validation and optimisation of the system is preferable.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)162-169
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Research areas

  • Antibiotic prescribing, clinical indication, general practice, electronic prescriptions, data linkage

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