Prescription of antibiotics and anxiolytics/hypnotics to asthmatic patients in general practice: a cross-sectional study based on French and Italian prescribing data

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Background: Asthma is often poorly controlled and guidelines are often inadequately followed in medical practice. In particular, the prescription of non-asthma-specific drugs can affect the quality of care. The goal of this study was to measure the frequency of the prescription of antibiotics and anxiolytics/hypnotics to asthmatic patients and to look for associations between sex or age and the prescription of these drugs. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted using computerised medical records from French and Italian general practitioners' networks. Patients were selected according to criteria adapted from the HEDIS (Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set) criteria. The outcome measure was the number of antibiotics or anxiolytics/hypnotics prescriptions per patient in 1 year. Parallel multivariate models were developed. Results: The final sample included 3,093 French patients (mean age 27.6 years, 49.7% women) and 3,872 Italian patients (mean age 29.1 years, 48.7% women). In the univariate analysis, the French patients were prescribed fewer antibiotics than the Italian patients (37.1% vs. 42.2%, p < 0.00001) but more anxiolytics/hypnotics (17.8% vs. 6.9%, p < 0.0001). In the multivariate models, the female patients were more likely to receive antibiotics (odds ratio: 1.5 [1.3-1.7]) and anxiolytics/hypnotics (odds ratio: 1.8 [1.5-2.1]). Conclusions: The prescription of antibiotics and anxiolytics/hypnotics to asthmatic patients is frequent, especially in women. Asthma guidelines should address this issue by referring to other guidelines covering the prescription of non-asthma-specific drugs, and alternative non-pharmacological interventions should be considered.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy


  • Asthma, Antibiotics, Anxiolytics, Hypnotics, Drug prescription, Primary, care
Original languageEnglish
Article number14
JournalBMC Family Practice
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch

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