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Int J Health Geogr. 2012 Dec 14;11:52. doi: 10.1186/1476-072X-11-52.

Geographical epidemiology of antibacterials in the preschool age.

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Department of Public Health, Mario Negri Pharmacological Research Institute, Milan, Italy.



Thematic maps allow a more rapid and immediate reading of the geographical differences in the distribution of data referred to a specific territory. The aim of this study was to show, for the first time, the application of some statistical and cartographic tools in the analysis of drug utilization in the pediatric population of an Italian region, and to assess the intra-regional difference in the antibiotic prescriptions.


To assess the type of geographic distribution of the prescriptions, the analyses were based on the standardized prevalence rate (z-score) calculated at the local health unit, health district, and municipality levels. Pearson's coefficient of correlation was used to evaluate the correlation with hospitalization and the Moran's I index was used to evaluate the existence of spatial autocorrelation. With the use of Getis-Ord's G statistic, clusters of areas with high and low levels of prevalence were identified and mapped. The probability of receiving at least one prescription of antibacterials during the year for all the children included in the study was evaluated with a logistic regression model.


With the use of the maps it was possible to see that the prescriptions were not correlated with the health status of the population, but with the tendency of the pediatrician to prescribe drugs. This was also confirmed by the logistic regression model constructed to estimate the probability of receiving at least one prescription of antibacterials considering, as independent variables: age, sex, prevalence of hospitalizations in the district of residence, prescriptive attitude of the pediatrician, sex of the pediatrician, pediatrician's age group, and duration of the pediatrician's contract with the local health unit (LHU).


The priority actions to rationalize the use of antibacterials in the preschool age should concentrate on the active participation of the pediatricians in permanent education activities. Moreover, the competent authorities should increasing their efforts to limit unnecessary prescriptions and increase appropriateness of prescribing.

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