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Time Trends and Factors Associated with Antibiotic Prescribing in Swiss Primary Care (2008 to 2020)

Martínez N, Di Gangi S, Pichierri G, Neuner-Jehle S, Senn O, Plate A

Antibiotics. 2020;9(11):837


Antibiotic resistance (ABR) is a major threat to public health, and the majority of antibiotics are prescribed in the outpatient setting, especially in primary care. Monitoring antibiotic consumption is one key measure in containing ABR, but Swiss national surveillance data are limited.


We conducted a retrospective cross-sectional study to characterise the patterns of antibiotic prescriptions, assess the time trends, and identify the factors associated with antibiotic prescribing in Swiss primary care.


Using electronic medical records data, we analysed 206,599 antibiotic prescriptions from 112,378 patients. Based on 27,829 patient records, respiratory (52.1%), urinary (27.9%), and skin (4.8%) infections were the commonest clinical indications for antibiotic prescribing. The most frequently prescribed antibiotics were broad-spectrum penicillins (BSP) (36.5%), fluoroquinolones (16.4%), and macrolides/lincosamides (13.8%). Based on the WHO AWaRe classification, antibiotics were 57.9% Core-Access and 41.7% Watch, 69% of which were fluoroquinolones and macrolides. Between 2008 and 2020, fluoroquinolones and macrolides/lincosamides prescriptions significantly declined by 53% and 51%; BSP prescriptions significantly increased by 54%. Increasing patients’ age, volume, and employment level were significantly associated with antibiotic prescribing.


Our results may inform future antibiotic stewardship interventions to improve antibiotic prescribing.

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