An Audit and Feedback Intervention for Reducing Antibiotic Prescribing in General Dental Practice: The RAPiD Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial

Paula Elouafkaoui, Linda Young, Rumana Newlands, Eilidh M. Duncan, Andrew Elders, Jan E. Clarkson, Craig R. Ramsay, Translation Research in a Dental Setting (TRiaDS) Research Methodology Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


BackgroundDentists prescribe approximately 10% of antibiotics dispensed in UK community pharmacies. Despite clear clinical guidance, dentists often prescribe antibiotics inappropriately. This cluster-randomised controlled trial used routinely collected National Health Service (NHS) dental prescribing and treatment claim data to compare the impact of individualised audit and feedback (A&F) interventions on dentists’ antibiotic prescribing rates.
Methods and FindingsAll 795 antibiotic prescribing NHS general dental practices in Scotland were included. Practices were randomised to the control (practices = 163; dentists = 567) or A&F intervention group (practices = 632; dentists = 1,999). A&F intervention practices were allocated to one of two A&F groups: (1) individualised graphical A&F comprising a line graph plotting an individual dentist’s monthly antibiotic prescribing rate (practices = 316; dentists = 1,001); or (2) individualised graphical A&F plus a written behaviour change message synthesising and reiterating national guidance recommendations for dental antibiotic prescribing (practices = 316; dentists = 998). Intervention practices were also simultaneously randomised to receive A&F: (i) with or without a health board comparator comprising the addition of a line to the graphical A&F plotting the monthly antibiotic prescribing rate of all dentists in the health board; and (ii) delivered at 0 and 6 mo or at 0, 6, and 9 mo, giving a total of eight intervention groups. The primary outcome, measured by the trial statistician who was blinded to allocation, was the total number of antibiotic items dispensed per 100 NHS treatment claims over the 12 mo post-delivery of the baseline A&F. Primary outcome data was available for 152 control practices (dentists = 438) and 609 intervention practices (dentists = 1,550). At baseline, the number of antibiotic items prescribed per 100 NHS treatment claims was 8.3 in the control group and 8.5 in the intervention group. At follow-up, antibiotic prescribing had decreased by 0.4 antibiotic items per 100 NHS treatment claims in control practices and by 1.0 in intervention practices. This represents a significant reduction (-5.7%; 95% CI -10.2% to -1.1%; p = 0.01) in dentists' prescribing rate in the intervention group relative to the control group. Intervention subgroup analyses found a 6.1% reduction in the antibiotic prescribing rate of dentists who had received the written behaviour change message relative to dentists who had not (95% CI -10.4% to -1.9%; p = 0.01). There was no significant between-group difference in the prescribing rate of dentists who received a health board comparator relative to those who did not (-4.3%; 95% CI -8.6% to 0.1%; p = 0.06), nor between dentists who received A&F at 0 and 6 mo relative to those who received A&F at 0, 6, and 9 mo (0.02%; 95% CI -4.2% to 4.2%; p = 0.99). The key limitations relate to the use of routinely collected datasets which did not allow evaluation of any effects on inappropriate prescribing.
ConclusionsA&F derived from routinely collected datasets led to a significant reduction in the antibiotic prescribing rate of dentists.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1002115
Number of pages19
JournalPLoS Medicine
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2016

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgments: We thank the TRiaDS Research Methodology Group, including Irene Black, Debbie Bonetti, Heather Cassie, Martin Eccles, Sandra Eldridge, Jill J. Francis, Jeremy M. Grimshaw, Lorna Macpherson, Lorna McKee, Susan Michie, Nigel Pitts, Derek Richards, Douglas Stirling, Colin Tilley, Carole Torgerson, Shaun Treweek, Luke Vale, and Alan Walker for their guidance and contribution to the design and development of the study. We also thank Maria Prior for overseeing the running of the study, drafting of the published protocol, and her contribution to the design and analysis of the process evaluation. Thanks are also extended to Jill Farnham, Jenny Eades, Sarah Blackburn, and Lorna Barnsley for providing invaluable administrative support for this study.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and may not reflect those of the funder.

Funding: This study was conducted as part of the TRiaDS programme of implementation research which is funded by NHS Education for Scotland (NES). The Health Services Research Unit which is funded by the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates supported the study. The funder had no influence over the design, conduct, analysis and write up of the study.

Data Availability: Researchers can request to access the data from the Information Services Division of NHS National Services Scotland Some restrictions may apply for the protection of privacy and appropriate usage of the data.


Dive into the research topics of 'An Audit and Feedback Intervention for Reducing Antibiotic Prescribing in General Dental Practice: The RAPiD Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this