Utilizing behavioral science to improve antibiotic prescribing in rural urgent care settings

Patricia L. Cummings, Rita Alajajian, Larissa S. May, Russel Grant, Hailey Greer, Jordan Sontz, Massoud Dezfuli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background. Antibiotic-inappropriate prescribing for acute respiratory tract infections (ARTI) is 45% among urgent care centers (UCCs) in the United States. Locally in our UCCs, antibiotic-inappropriate prescribing for ARTI is higher-over 70%. Methods. We used a quasi-experimental design to implement 3 behavioral interventions targeting antibiotic-inappropriate/nonguideline- concordant prescribing for ARTI at 3 high-volume rural UCCs and analyzed prescribing rates pre- and post-intervention. The 3 interventions were (1) staff/patient education, (2) public commitment, and (3) peer comparison. For peer comparison, providers were sent feedback emails with their prescribing data during the intervention period and a blinded ranking email comparing them with their peers. Providers were categorized as "low prescribers " (ie, =23% antibiotic-inappropriate prescriptions based off the US National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria 2020 goal) or "high prescribers " (ie, =45%-the national average of antibiotic-inappropriate prescribing for ARTI). An interrupted time series (ITS) analysis compared prescribing for ARTI (the primary outcome) over a 16-month period before the intervention and during the 6-month intervention period, for a total of 22 months, across the 3 UCCs. Results. Fewer antibiotic-inappropriate prescriptions were written during the intervention period (57.7%) compared with the pre-intervention period (72.6%) in the 3 UCCs, resulting in a 14.9% absolute decrease in percentage of antibiotic-inappropriate prescriptions. The ITS analysis revealed that the rate of antibiotic-inappropriate prescribing was statistically significantly different pre-intervention compared with the intervention period (95% confidence interval, -4.59 to -0.59; P = .014). Conclusions. In this sample of rural UCCs, we reduced antibiotic-inappropriate prescribing for ARTI using 3 behavioral interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberofaa174
JournalOpen Forum Infectious Diseases
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • Antibiotic prescribing
  • Antibiotic stewardship
  • Behavioral interventions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Clinical Neurology


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