Published: 19 December 2017

A SIMPle prescription to tackle antibiotic resistance in urinary tract infections

Researchers: Dr Akke Vellinga, Professor Andrew Murphy, NUI Galway

HRB research at NUI Galway showed that interactive workshops improve how GPs prescribe antibiotics for urinary tract infections and has led to online training for GPs.
In Summary

If patients take antibiotics, bacteria can develop resistance to the very medicines that are designed to stop infection. A study in Galway identified that GP prescribing practices were not optimal for patients with urinary tract infections (UTIs), and were linked to antibiotic resistance. A follow-on trial showed that interactive workshops with GPs improved antibiotic prescribing over the course of six months.

The Problem

HRB-funded research by Dr Akke Vellinga and Professor Andrew Murphy in NUI Galway examined how GPs in practices in the west of Ireland prescribed antibiotics for patients with UTIs. They found that GPs often prescribed inappropriate antibiotics immediately for patients, and this pattern was linked with bacteria being resistant to those medicines.

The Project

To build on the research, Dr Vellinga and Professor Murphy gathered a team to design and carry out an intervention study called the SIMPle study. The NUI Galway team provided a computer patch to allow GPs to easily monitor their antibiotic prescribing for UTIs and complete mandatory audits for the Irish Medical Council. In return, the GPs provided coded data about prescribing for UTIs and some took part in interactive workshops on antibiotic prescribing. 

The Outcomes

GPs who took part in interactive workshops improved how they prescribed antibiotics for UTIs.

GPs found it easier to keep track of their antibiotic prescriptions for UTIs, which helped them to complete national audits.

While the six-month study is too short to measure changes in antibiotic resistance, the workshops provided a useful means to keep GPs up to date with current prescribing guidelines.

The Irish College of General Practitioners now offers the workshops on prescribing for UTIs as part of their online programmes, which are available to GPs in Ireland.

Dr Akke Vellinga, Senior Researcher, School of Medicine, NUI Galway, says:

'One of the interesting outcomes of the project was that GPs really liked the way we approached recruitment to the study. We had a social marketer on our team, Sinead Duane, who suggested that in return for GPs taking part in our study we would help them to prepare audits they need to do. This is a sustainable model where GPs and researchers can help each other in the course of a clinical study'.