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Patient Education Helps Prevent Overuse of Antibiotics for Cough, Study Finds
Date:1/18/2013

FRIDAY, Jan. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Patient education in the form of brochures and posters helps reduce the overuse of antibiotics to treat bronchitis in teens and adults, according to a new study.

The overuse of antibiotics to treat bronchitis could worsen trends in antibiotic resistance, the researchers noted. They said computer prompts alerting nurses to the need for patient education on the difference between bronchitis and pneumonia also are effective in reducing reliance on antibiotics.

The study, led by Dr. Ralph Gonzales of the University of California, San Francisco, involved 33 primary care practices that are part of an integrated health care system in central Pennsylvania.

At 11 practices, printed materials -- including educational brochures and posters explaining the difference between bronchitis and pneumonia -- were routinely offered to patients suffering from a cough. In 11 more practices, patients received computer-assisted "decision support" intervention. In these cases, when nurses typed "cough" into an electronic health record, an alert prompted them to provide the patient with an educational brochure. The remaining practices served as control sites.

For the study, which was published online Jan. 14 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, the researchers compared the rate of antibiotic prescription for uncomplicated acute bronchitis before and after the printed and computer-assisted interventions.

Overall, there were more than 9,800 visits for uncomplicated acute bronchitis when the study began and less than 6,300 visits during the interventions. The study found the percentage of teens and adults given antibiotics dropped from 80 percent to about 68 percent at the sites with printed materials and from 74 percent to about 61 percent at practices with computer-assisted decision support.

The difference in effectiveness of the printed and computer-assisted decision support was no
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