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Outpatient Antibiotic Prescribing During the First Two Years of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Nationwide Register-Based Time Series Analysis

Julkaistu 18.12.2023


The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed an enormous burden on health care systems around the world. Simultaneously, many countries have reported a decrease in the incidence of other infectious diseases, such as acute respiratory infections, leading to a decline in outpatient antibiotic use. The aim of this study is to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on outpatient antibiotic prescribing in Finland during the first 2 years of the pandemic. We used nationwide register data, applied descriptive methods, and conducted an interrupted time series analysis (ITSA) using ARIMA modelling. Results from the ARIMA modelling showed that at the baseline, before the pandemic, the level of monthly number of antibiotic prescriptions was 248,560 (95% CI: 224,261 to 272,856; p<0.001) and there was a decreasing trend of 1,202 in monthly number of prescriptions (95% CI: -2,107 to -262; p<0.01). After the COVID-19 pandemic began, there was a statistically significant decline of 48,470 (95% CI: -76,404 to -20,535, p<0.001) prescriptions (-19.5% from the baseline level). The greatest decrease in antibiotic prescribing was observed among children aged 0–17 years. While antibiotic prescribing declined in all antibiotic groups associated with respiratory tract infections, the decrease from 2019 to 2020 was the largest with azithromycin (52.6%), amoxicillin (44.8%), and doxycycline (43.8%). Future studies should continue exploring antibiotic prescribing trends during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

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Heini Kari, Hanna Rättö, Leena Saastamoinen, Hanna Koskinen

Lisätietoja julkaisusta

  • Vertaisarvioitu: kyllä.
  • Avoin saatavuus: kyllä.
  • Koko viite: Kari, H., Rättö, H., Saastamoinen, L., & Koskinen, H. (2023). Outpatient antibiotic prescribing during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic: A nationwide register-based time series analysis. PloS one, 18(12), e0296048.  

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