Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

PURPOSE The purpose of the study was to assess the long-term effect of family physicians' use of C-reactive protein (CRP) point-of-care testing and/or physician training in enhanced communication skills on office visit rates and antibiotic prescriptions for patients with respiratory tract infections. METHODS We conducted a 3.5-year follow-up of a pragmatic, factorial, clusterrandomized controlled trial; 379 patients (20 family practices in the Netherlands) who visited their family physician for acute cough were enrolled in the trial and had follow-up data available (88% of original trial cohort). Main outcome measures were the average number of episodes of respiratory tract infections for which patients visited their family physician per patient per year (PPPY), and the percentage of the episodes for which patients were treated with antibiotics during follow-up. RESULTS The mean number of episodes of respiratory tract infections during follow-up was 0.40 PPPY in the CRP test group and 0.56 PPPY in the no CRP test group (P =.12). In the communication skills training group, there was a mean of 0.36 PPPY episodes of respiratory tract infections, and in the no training group the mean was 0.57 PPPY (P =.09). During follow-up 30.7% of all episodes of respiratory tract infection were treated with antibiotics in the CRP test group compared with 35.7% in the no test group (P =.36). Family physicians trained in communication skills treated 26.3% of all episodes of respiratory tract infection with antibiotics compared with 39.1% treated by family physicians without training in communication skills (P =.02) CONCLUSIONS Family physicians' use of CRP point-of-care testing and/or training in enhanced communication skills did not significantly affect office visit rates related to respiratory tract infections. Patients who saw a family physician trained in enhanced communication skills were prescribed significantly fewer antibiotics during episodes of respiratory tract infection in the subsequent 3.5 years.

Original publication




Journal article


Annals of Family Medicine

Publication Date





157 - 164