Antibiotic prophylaxis in general oral health care: the perspective of decision making
Abstract: In Sweden, pharmaceutical committees in the counties devote resources to recommendations aimed at supporting optimal medication for patients. These recommendations include oral health care, with advice on when to administer antibiotic prophylaxis in connection with dental procedures to prevent infectious complications in patients with specific medical conditions. There has been much discussion about the use of antibiotic prophylaxis in oral health care and the evidence that the recommendations are based upon is questionned. When using antibiotics, there exist risk of adverse events such as skin rashes, diarrhoea or life-threatening anaphylactic reactions as well as the risk of developing resistant bacterial strains. With this background the use of antibiotics should be minimised. The objectives of this thesis were to: 1) evaluate the evidence in the literature for the use of antibiotic prophylaxis in oral health care, and the agreement between Swedish recommendations and evidence, 2) examine general dental practitioners’ (GDPs’) administration strategies of antibiotic prophylaxis, and the agreement between GDPs’ administration strategies and recommendations, 3) examine GDPs’ confidence in their decisions on administration of antibiotic prophylaxis and 4) examine GDPs’ assessment of risk in their decisions on administration of antibiotic prophylaxis. The method for the first objective was a systematic literature review of scientific studies. The systematic approach included defined inclusion and exclusion criteria, pre-defined protocols for data extraction and quality assessment of studies, as well as an overall evaluation of the quality of evidence. For the other objectives a questionnaire study was conducted. The questionnaire comprised eight simulated cases of patients with different medical conditions. We included conditions for which antibiotic prophylaxis should be administered when performing dental procedures according to recommendations, and conditions for which antibiotic prophylaxis should not be administered. For each medical condition three different dental procedures (scaling, tooth removal and root canal treatment) were presented. These dental procedures could cause bleeding to various degrees. The questionnaire was sent to 200 randomly selected GDPs in Skåne and Örebro counties. The response rate was 51% (101/200). The GDPs were asked to answer whether they would administer antibiotic prophylaxis, how confident they were in their decisions and their assessment of the risk of complications if antibiotic prophylaxis was not administered. The results are summarised in the following most important key points: • According to evidence, there exist no medical condition for which antibiotic prophylaxis should be used • Swedish recommendations include several medical conditions for which antibiotic prophylaxis should be used • There was a large variation in GDPs’ administration strategies • Agreement between GDPs’ administration strategies and recommendations was low • GDPs were highly confident about their decisions, regardless of whether they administered antibiotic prophylaxis or not, and regardless of whether their decisions were according to recommendations or not • GDPs’ risk assessments were rational but uninformed, i.e. they administered antibiotic prophylaxis in a manner that was consistent with their risk assessments, but their risk assessments were overestimated and inaccurate in terms of the actual risks. In conclusion: According to evidence, there exist no medical condition for which antibiotic prophylaxis should be used. Still, Swedish recommendations include several medical conditions for which antibiotic prophylaxis should be used. To avoid the risk of adverse events and of developing resistant bacterial strains, Swedish recommendations should be more evidence-based. GDPs varied greatly in their administration strategies and their decisions exhibited low agreement with recommendations. This shows that the decisions of GDPs are less than optimal and should be improved. The high confidence that GDPs expressed in their decisions, along with their overestimated and inaccurate risk assessments, might serve as potential barriers to behavioural modifications. Previous research suggest that it is very difficult to implement recommendations to change the behaviour of clinicians. Current knowledge about successful implementation strategies is limited. Changing GDPs’ decisions about administration of antibiotic prophylaxis is likely to be very difficult.
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