The development of an intervention to improve the use of point-of-care diagnostics in the management of respiratory tract infections in primary care: a mixed methods study

Using antimicrobial medicines (e.g. antibiotics) too often, especially when they are not needed, is associated with increased antimicrobial resistance (AmR). AmR can weaken the effects of antimicrobials, which threatens our already vulnerable health systems. Sometimes, antibiotics (which kill bacteria) are used to treat viral respiratory infections as it is difficult to tell if an infection is bacterial or viral. To help General Practitioners (GPs) and Community Pharmacists (CPs) understand whether respiratory infections are viral or bacterial, on-the-spot tests can be carried out, but these are not commonly done. If more of these tests were carried out, only patients who really need antibiotics would be prescribed them. This, in the long-term, would help to tackle AmR.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to changes in how patients’ care is organised in Ireland. For example, GPs transfer prescriptions electronically to the CP without a paper prescription and patients with respiratory symptoms are sent for a COVID-19 test in a special testing centre before they are seen by their GP. We aim to build on these changes, develop a process where more tests are available for patients from their GPs and CPs to correctly tell the cause of their respiratory infection and ensure they get the best care for these infections.

We will develop best practice guidance for how respiratory infections should be diagnosed and treated with a group of international experts and study how GPs and CPs think they should be used, especially considering how patient care is currently provided. We will ask patients their views on being tested for respiratory infections and how they think this should be done. We will then develop processes for increasing the use of tests for respiratory infections. We will ask GPs, CPs and patients their thoughts on these so that we can make further improvements.

Award Date
01 July 2022
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Professor Cristin Ryan
Host Institution
Trinity College Dublin
Investigator Led Projects