Report card decreases dentists’ antibiotic prescriptions

Dentists prescribe fewer antibiotics after they receive a personalised report detailing their past prescription rates, according to a 12-month randomised controlled trial in UK general dental practices.

The trial which featured all 795 antibiotic prescribing general dental practices in Scotland has shown a 5.7 percent reduction in dentists’ antibiotic prescribing rate after receiving the intervention.

The journal PLOS Medicine has published the results of the study which was co-led by Professor Jan Clarkson, Co-Director of Dental Health Services Research Unit at the University of Dundee, Professor Craig Ramsay at the University of Aberdeen and Dr Linda Young at NHS Education for Scotland (NES).

Professor Clarkson said, “Dentists in the UK prescribe about 10 percent of the antibiotics dispensed in community pharmacies.

“Our study has shown that providing individualised graphical feedback from routinely collected data can reduce the amount of antibiotic prescriptions.

“This is a relatively straightforward, low-cost public health and patient safety intervention that could potentially help the entire healthcare profession address the increasing challenge of antimicrobial resistance.”

Dr David Felix, Postgraduate Dental Dean at NHS Education for Scotland, said, “NHS Education for Scotland is delighted to demonstrate that research can be successfully embedded into service delivery and provide solutions to help address the problem of antimicrobial resistance.

“Providing evidence of how to reduce antibiotic prescribing nationally is an important step forward in tackling this major problem.”

The study also showed that dentists who received a written behaviour change message demonstrated an even greater reduction in antibiotic prescribing, 6.1 percent, than those who did not receive the message.

The paper, ‘An Audit and Feedback Intervention for Reducing Antibiotic Prescribing in General Dental Practice: The RAPiD Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial’ is available at

For media enquiries contact:
Dominic Glasgow
Media Relations Officer
University of Dundee
Nethergate, Dundee, DD1 4HN
Tel: +44 (0)1382 385131