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Eur J Gen Pract. 2012 Jun;18(2):117-21. doi: 10.3109/13814788.2012.680061. Epub 2012 May 1.

Infectious diseases in primary care; managing the interface between the person and the community.

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Centre for General Practice and Laboratory of Medical Microbiology, Vaccine & Infectious Disease Institute (VAXINFECTIO), University of Antwerp, Belgium.


Respiratory infections are still among the most common new diagnoses in primary care. The most frequent reason for encounter is acute cough. General practitioners have to make antibiotic prescribing decisions in a context of diagnostic uncertainty, patient preferences and antimicrobial resistance. There is a causal link between antimicrobial resistance and antibiotic prescribing in primary care. GRACE observational studies (, show that variation in clinical presentation does not explain the considerable variation in antibiotic prescribing in Europe for adults presenting in primary care with acute cough and that recovery is similar between those treated with any antibiotic, a particular antibiotic class, or no antibiotic. A GRACE randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the effect of antibiotics for acute cough has recruited more patients than all RCTs combined in the current Cochrane Review and will have the power to identify subgroups of patients who will (not) benefit from amoxicillin. Another multi-country GRACE RCT assessing the effect on antibiotic prescribing of largely web-based versions of successful interventions including a C-reactive protein point-of-care test, a communication skill training and an interactive patient booklet is awaited. Given potential long-term cost-effectiveness, the GRACE suite of observational and interventional studies are enhancing the evidence base for reducing diagnostic uncertainty and managing patient expectations in a patient-centred way to achieve greater evidence-based antibiotic prescribing that is likely to help containing antimicrobial resistance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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