Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

HERO Online Working Paper Series,
University of Oslo, Health Economics Research Programme

No 2020:1: The Effect of Expert Feedback on Antibiotic Prescribing in Pediatrics: Experimental Evidence

Kerstin Eilermann (), Katrin Halstenberg , Ludwig Kuntz , Kyriakos Martakis , Bernhard Roth and Daniel Wiesen
Additional contact information
Kerstin Eilermann: Department of Business Administration and Health Care Management, University of Cologn
Katrin Halstenberg: University of Cologne, Medical Faculty and University Hospital, Department of Pediatrics, Cologne
Ludwig Kuntz: Department of Business Administration and Health Care Management, University of Cologne
Kyriakos Martakis: University of Cologne, Medical Faculty and University Hospital, Department of Pediatrics, Cologn
Bernhard Roth: University of Cologne, Medical Faculty and University Hospital, Department of Pediatrics, Cologne
Daniel Wiesen: Department of Health Management and Health Economics, Postal: University of Oslo, Norway

Abstract: Background. Inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics, which is common in pediatric care, is a key driver of antimicrobial resistance. To mitigate the development of resistance, antibiotic stewardship programs often suggest the inclusion of feedback targeted at individual providers. Empirically, however, it is not well understood how feedback affects individual physicians’ antibiotic prescribing decisions. Also, the question of how physicians’ characteristics, such as clinical experience, relate to antibiotic prescribing decisions and to responses to feedback is largely unexplored. Objective. To analyze the causal effect of descriptive expert feedback (and individual characteristics) on physicians’ antibiotic prescribing decisions in pediatrics. Design. We employed a randomized, controlled framed field experiment, in which German pediatricians (n=73) decided on the length of first-line antibiotic treatment for routine pediatric cases. In the intervention group (n=39), pediatricians received descriptive feedback in form of an expert benchmark, which allowed them to compare their own prescribing decisions with expert recommendations. The recommendations were elicited in a survey of pediatricdepartment directors (n=20), who stated the length of antibiotic therapies they would choose for the routine cases. Pediatricians’ characteristics were elicited in a comprehensive questionnaire. Results. Providing pediatricians with expert feedback significantly reduced the length of antibiotic therapies by ten percent on average. Also, the deviation of pediatricians’ decisions from experts’ recommendations significantly decreased. Antibiotic therapy decisions were significantly related to pediatricians’ clinical experience, risk attitudes, and personality traits. The effect of feedback was significantly associated with physicians’ experience. Conclusion. Our results indicate that descriptive expert feedback can be an effective means to guide pediatricians, especially those who are inexperienced, towards more appropriate antibiotic prescribing. Therefore, it seems to be suitable for inclusion in antibiotic stewardship programs.

Keywords: Framed field experiment; descriptive feedback; expert benchmark; length of antibiotic therapy; clinical experience.

JEL-codes: D90; I12

57 pages, December 16, 2019

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