Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Umeå Economic Studies,
Umeå University, Department of Economics

No 977: Can privatisation of primary care contribute to the spread of antibiotic resistance?

David Granlund () and Yana Zykova ()
Additional contact information
David Granlund: Department of Economics, Umeå University, Postal: Department of Economics, Umeå University, S 901 87 Umeå, Sweden
Yana Zykova: The Arctic University of Norway

Abstract: Growing rates of antibiotic resistance, caused by increasing antibiotic use, pose a threat by making antibiotics less effective in treating infections. In this paper, we studied whether physicians working at privately and publicly owned health centres differed in the likelihood of prescribing antibiotics and choosing broad-spectrum over arrow-spectrum antibiotics. To estimate the effect of ownership on the probability of a prescribed drug being an antibiotic, we analysed all 4.5 million prescriptions issued from 2011 to 2015 at primary health-centres in Västerbotten, Sweden. We then analysed how ownership affected the likelihood of a prescribed antibiotic being broad spectrum. We also used aggregated data to estimate the impact of the number of private health centres on the number of antibiotic prescriptions per inhabitant and the proportion of broad-spectrum antibiotics. The results show that, holding other factors constant, private physicians were 6% more likely to prescribe antibiotics and 9% more likely to choose broad-spectrum antibiotics. An increase by one additional private health centre was positively associated with an increase in the number of antibiotic prescriptions per inhabitant and a higher proportion, although not significant, of broad-spectrum antibiotic prescriptions.

Keywords: Antibiotic resistance; prescription; ownership structure; salary; fee-for-service; capitation

JEL-codes: I11; I18; L33

28 pages, June 25, 2020

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