Antibiotic prescription patterns of South African general medical practitioners for treatment of acute bronchitis

N B Q Ncube, G C Solanki, T Kredo, R Lalloo


Background. Antibiotic resistance is a significant public health problem. Prudent use of antibiotics is crucial in reducing this resistance. Acute bronchitis is a common reason for consultations with general medical practitioners, and antibiotics are often prescribed even though guidelines recommend not prescribing them for uncomplicated acute bronchitis.

Objective. To analyse the antibiotic prescription patterns of South African (SA) general medical practitioners in the treatment of acute bronchitis.

Methods. The 2013 claims for members of 11 health insurance schemes were analysed to assess antibiotic prescription patterns for patients diagnosed with acute bronchitis. The patterns were assessed by type of bronchitis, chronic health status of the patients, sex and age group. The types of antibiotic prescribed were also analysed.

Results. Of 166 821 events analysed, an antibiotic was prescribed in more than half (52.9%). There were significant differences by type of bronchitis and chronic health status. Patients with viral bronchitis were more likely to be prescribed an antibiotic than those with bacterial bronchitis (odds ratio (OR) 1.17, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.08 - 1.26). Patients with a chronic illness were less likely to be prescribed an antibiotic than those without (OR 0.58, 95% CI 0.57 - 0.60). More than 70% of the antibiotics prescribed were cephalosporins, penicillins and other beta-lactams.

Conclusions. Prescription rates of antibiotics for acute bronchitis by SA general medical practitioners are high. There is an urgent need to follow the guidelines for antibiotic use for acute bronchitis to reduce the likelihood of increasing resistance to available antibiotics.

Authors' affiliations

N B Q Ncube, School of Public Health, Faculty of Community and Health Sciences, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa

G C Solanki, Towers Watson, Cape Town, South Africa; and Health Economics Unit, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

T Kredo, Cochrane South Africa, South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa

R Lalloo, School of Dentistry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Full Text

PDF (92KB)


Prescribing patterns; Antibiotics; Acute bronchitis

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2017;107(2):119-122. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2017.v107i2.11276

Article History

Date submitted: 2017-01-30
Date published: 2017-01-30

Article Views

Abstract views: 4156
Full text views: 869

Comments on this article

*Read our policy for posting comments here