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INTRODUCTION: This project applies a Learning Healthcare System (LHS) approach to antibiotic prescribing for common infections in primary care. The approach involves iterations of data analysis, feedback to clinicians and implementation of quality improvement activities by the clinicians. The main research question is, can a knowledge support system (KSS) intervention within an LHS implementation improve antibiotic prescribing without increasing the risk of complications? METHODS AND ANALYSIS: A pragmatic cluster randomised controlled trial will be conducted, with randomisation of at least 112 general practices in North-West England. General practices participating in the trial will be randomised to the following interventions: periodic practice-level and individual prescriber feedback using dashboards; or the same dashboards plus a KSS. Data from large databases of healthcare records are used to characterise heterogeneity in antibiotic uses, and to calculate risk scores for clinical outcomes and for the effectiveness of different treatment strategies. The results provide the baseline content for the dashboards and KSS. The KSS comprises a display within the electronic health record used during the consultation; the prescriber (general practitioner or allied health professional) will answer standard questions about the patient's presentation and will then be presented with information (eg, patient's risk of complications from the infection) to guide decision making. The KSS can generate information sheets for patients, conveyed by the clinicians during consultations. The primary outcome is the practice-level rate of antibiotic prescribing (per 1000 patients) with secondary safety outcomes. The data from practices participating in the trial and the dashboard infrastructure will be held within regional shared care record systems of the National Health Service in the UK. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Approved by National Health Service Ethics Committee IRAS 290050. The research results will be published in peer-reviewed journals and also disseminated to participating clinical staff and policy and guideline developers. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ISRCTN16230629.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

Publication Date





Electronic Health Records, INFECTIOUS DISEASES, Primary Care, Randomized Controlled Trial, Humans, Feedback, State Medicine, General Practice, Referral and Consultation, Anti-Bacterial Agents, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic