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Public Health. 2006 Aug;120(8):752-9. Epub 2006 Jul 7.

Reducing variation in antibacterial prescribing rates for 'cough/cold' and sore throat between 1993 and 2001: regional analyses using the general practice research database.

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Regional Surveillance Unit, Health Protection Agency West Midlands, Birmingham, UK.



To use the General Practice Research Database (GPRD) to explore the regional variation in prescribing for single diagnostic episodes of 'cough/cold' and sore throat and how this changed between 1993 and 2001.


Data from the GPRD was used to conduct a longitudinal survey of morbidity and antibiotic prescribing data.


Nationally there has been a substantial reduction in diagnosed episodes per 1000 patient years at risk for both diagnoses: from 104.6 (104.0-105.2) to 86.5 (86.0-86.9) for cough/cold (-17.3%) and from 102.8 (102.2-103.4) to 69.2 (68.8-69.6) for sore throat (-32.6%). In addition to the changes in diagnostic rate there have been reductions in diagnosis-related prescribing: from 41.8% to 34.8% of cough/cold episodes (-7.0%) and from 77.3% to 60.8% of sore throat episodes (-16.4%). These aggregated data conceal wide regional variations. For cough/cold the change in prescribing rate during the study varied from -16.0% to +5.3% and for sore throat from -28.3% to -7.3%.


In addition to a substantial reduction in diagnosis of cough/cold and sore throat, there has been a reduction in diagnosis-related prescribing episodes in almost all regions. Although there continues to be regional variation in diagnosis-related prescribing this has reduced substantially over the 9-year study period.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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