Report card decreases dentists' antibiotic prescriptions

Report card decreases dentists' antibiotic prescriptions

Dentists prescribe fewer antibiotics after they receive a personalised report detailing their past prescription rates, according to research from The University of Aberdeen.

Professor Craig Ramsay, Director of the Health Services Research Unit at the University of Aberdeen collaborated with NHS Education for Scotland and Professor Jan Clarkson from the University of Dundee to conduct the research on dentist practices in Scotland in an effort to reduce antibiotic prescribing by dentists.

The study, published this week in PLOS Medicine, included all 795 antibiotic prescribing general dentist practices in Scotland, totalling 2566 dentists.  The randomised trial found that dentists prescribed 5.7% fewer antibiotics if they received a report showing their monthly antibiotic prescribing rate along with an educational message, than if they didn’t receive the report.

Professor Craig Ramsay said: “UK dentists prescribe about 10 percent of the antibiotics dispensed in community pharmacies. Previous studies have found that, despite clear dental guidelines, dentists often prescribe antibiotics in the absence of clinical need.

“This study is a relatively low cost country-wide health intervention that could potentially help the entire healthcare profession address the increasing challenge of antimicrobial resistance.

“We have shown that fostering collaboration between research organisations and service delivery can be done efficiently to produce real improvement.”

Dr David Felix, Postgraduate Dental Dean at NHS Education for Scotland, said:  “NHS Education for Scotland is delighted to demonstrate that research can be successfully embedded into service delivery and provide solutions to help address the problem of antimicrobial resistance.

“Providing evidence of how to reduce antibiotic prescribing nationally is an important step forward in tackling this major problem.”


The paper, ‘An Audit and Feedback Intervention for Reducing Antibiotic Prescribing in General Dental Practice: The RAPiD Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial’ is available at