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Scand J Prim Health Care. 2009;27(1):18-24. doi: 10.1080/02813430802610784.

Trends in number of consultations and antibiotic prescriptions for respiratory tract infections between 1999 and 2005 in primary healthcare in Kalmar County, Southern Sweden.

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  • 1Lindsdals Primary Health Centre, Förlösavägen 4, Kalmar, Sweden.


BACKGROUND. Respiratory tract infections (RTIs) comprise the most common indication for consulting a general practitioner and obtaining an antibiotic prescription.


To study changes in the number of visits, diagnoses, and antibiotic prescriptions for RTI in primary healthcare during the period 1999-2005.


A retrospective, descriptive, population-based study of electronic patient records. Setting. County of Kalmar in southeastern Sweden.


Patients visiting primary healthcare units in Kalmar County for an RTI between 1 July 1999 and 31 December 2005.


RTI diagnoses, antibiotic prescriptions, age groups.


A total of 240 447 visits for RTI made between 1999 and 2005 were analysed. The yearly consultation rates for the diagnoses acute tonsillitis and AOM decreased by 12% and 10%, respectively (p = 0.001). Of all patients consulting for an RTI diagnosis, 45% received antibiotics. Of all prescribed antibiotics, 60% were for phenoxymethylpenicillin (PcV) and 18% doxycycline. Amoxicillin or amoxicillin + clavulanic acid was prescribed to a lesser extent. The proportion of patients obtaining an antibiotic prescription was almost constant over time (44-46%). The prescriptions of doxycycline showed increasing values (NS). The prescriptions of remaining antibiotics decreased significantly especially for patients up to middle age.


This large population study, comprising more than six years of observations, showed the number of primary healthcare patients receiving an RTI diagnosis decreased during the period 1999-2005, but the proportion of patients receiving an antibiotic prescription remained the same. The large seasonal variations indicate a need for further interventions to decrease antibiotic use for RTIs.

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