Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

PURPOSE This study aimed to implement a point-of-care cluster randomized trial using electronic health records. We evaluated the effectiveness of electronically delivered decision support tools at reducing antibiotic prescribing for respiratory tract infections in primary care. METHODS Family practices from England and Scotland participating in the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) were included in the trial; 53 family practices were allocated to intervention and 51 practices were allocated to usual care. Patients aged 18 to 59 years consulting for respiratory tract infections were eligible. The intervention was through remotely installed, computer-delivered decision support tools accessed during the consultations. Control practices provided usual care. The primary outcome was the proportion of consultations for respiratory tract infections with an antibiotic prescribed based on electronic health records. Family practice-specific proportions were included in a cluster-level analysis. RESULTS Data were analyzed for 603,409 patients: 317,717 at intervention practices and 285,692 at control practices. Use of the intervention was less than anticipated, varying among practices. There was a reduction in proportion of consultations with antibiotics prescribed of 1.85% (95% CI, 0.10%-3.59%, P =.038) and in the rate of antibiotic prescribing for respiratory tract infections (9.69%; 95% CI, 0.75%-18.63%, fewer prescriptions per 1,000 patient-years, P =.034). There were no adverse events. CONCLUSIONS Cluster randomized trials may be implemented efficiently in large samples from routine care settings by using primary care electronic health records. Future studies should develop and test multicomponent methods for remotely delivered intervention.

Original publication




Journal article


Annals of family medicine

Publication Date





344 - 351