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Delayed antibiotic prescription in primary care has been shown to reduce antibiotic consumption, without increasing risk of complications, yet is not widely used in the UK. We sought to quantify the relative importance of factors affecting the decision to give a delayed prescription, using a stated-choice survey among UK general practitioners. Respondents were asked whether they would provide a delayed or immediate prescription in fifteen hypothetical consultations, described by eight attributes. They were also asked if they would prefer not to prescribe antibiotics. The most important determinants of choice between immediate and delayed prescription were symptoms, duration of illness, and the presence of multiple comorbidities. Respondents were more likely to choose a delayed prescription if the patient preferred not to have antibiotics, but consultation length had little effect. When given the option, respondents chose not to prescribe antibiotics in 51% of cases, with delayed prescription chosen in 21%. Clinical features remained important. Patient preference did not affect the decision to give no antibiotics. We suggest that broader dissemination of the clinical evidence supporting use of delayed prescription for specific presentations may help increase appropriate use. Establishing patient preferences regarding antibiotics may help to overcome concerns about patient acceptance. Increasing consultation length appears unlikely to affect the use of delayed prescription.

Original publication




Journal article


Antibiotics (Basel)

Publication Date





UK, antibiotic resistance, choice experiment, delayed prescription, general practice, primary care, respiratory tract infection, stewardship