Patients’ Expectations for Antibiotics Encourage Overprescribing

Doctor prescription
Doctor prescription
Study finds physicians overprescribe antibiotics to accommodate patient expectations.

HealthDay News — Doctors are more likely to prescribe antibiotics if they think patients expect the medications, according to a study published in Health Psychology.

The study included 436 doctors in the United Kingdom. The researchers conducted 2 experiments and presented physicians with different scenarios where they had to decide if they would prescribe antibiotics.

The researchers found that physicians were more likely to prescribe antibiotics if patients had high expectations of receiving the medications. This was true even if the doctor didn’t think the patient had a bacterial infection.

“Much effort has been spent encouraging physicians to adhere to clinical guidelines when prescribing antibiotics. However, with few notable exceptions, these efforts rarely address the non-clinical factors, such as how to tackle patients’ expectations,” study researcher Miroslav Sirota, PhD, of the University of Essex in Colchester, United Kingdom, said in a journal news release.

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Sirota M, Round T, Samaranayaka S, Kostopoulou O. Expectations for antibiotics increase their prescribing: causal evidence about localized impact [published February 16, 2017]. Health Psychol. doi: 10.1037/hea0000456.