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Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2003 Nov;59(8-9):663-8. Epub 2003 Sep 27.

Urinary tract infection in women--physician's preferences for treatment and adherence to guidelines: a national drug utilization study in a managed care setting.

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Department of Family Medicine, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.



The treatment of urinary tract infection (UTI), the most common bacterial infection in most Western countries, is a global clinical and economic issue. Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX) and nitrofurantoin are the two drugs currently recommended in clinical guidelines in Israel for uncomplicated UTI in women.


This study evaluates physician preferences for treatment and adherence to guidelines.


Data were derived from the electronic records of Leumit Health Fund, one of four health management organizations in Israel. Non-pregnant women aged 18-75 years with a diagnosis of acute cystitis or UTI without risk factors for complicated UTI who were empirically treated with antibiotics from January 2001 to June 2002 were identified. The final sample comprised 7738 physician-patient encounters. Physician prescription behavior was analyzed by evaluating the proportion of treatments with each individual drug. A binary regression model was implemented to identify factors associated with suboptimal adherence to the guidelines.


TMP-SMX was the most frequently prescribed drug (25.81%), followed by nitrofurantoin (14.71%), for a 40.52% rate of adherence to the guidelines [95% confidence interval (CI)=39.42, 41.61]. Drugs from the fluoroquinolone family were prescribed in 22.82% of cases. Prescription behavior was also influenced by non-clinical, non-pharmacological factors, such as physician specialty, geographic setting and patient age.


The majority of cases of UTI in the present study were not treated according to the current guidelines. Fluoroquinolones, though not recommended and relatively costly, were prescribed extensively. These results highlight the necessity for a remedial education program within the health care system designed to improve adherence to the guidelines for the treatment of UTI in women. As this issue is of global importance, this evaluation may serve as a model for similar studies in other settings or countries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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