Community antibiotic prescriptions during COVID-19 era: a population-based cohort study among adults

Bat Sheva Gottesman, Marcelo Low, Doron Netzer, Ronit Almog, Michal Chowers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objectives: This study investigated the association between the COVID-19 pandemic and antibiotic prescription ratios and the determinants of antibiotic prescription in the community. Methods: The study was based on a retrospective population cohort of adults in a community setting. Antibiotic prescription ratios from March 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021 (COVID-19 period) were compared to similar months in previous years. Differences in visit type, infectious disease–related visit, and antibiotic prescription ratios during these visits were compared. A logistic regression model was used to identify independent determinants of antibiotic prescription during the study period. Results: The cohort included almost 3 million individuals with more than 33 million community medical encounters per year. In the COVID-19 period, the antibiotic prescription ratio decreased 45% (from 34.2 prescriptions/100 patients to 19.1/100) compared to the previous year. Visits due to an infectious disease etiology decreased by 10% and prescriptions per visit decreased by 39% (from 1 034 425 prescriptions/3 764 235 infectious disease visits to 587 379/3 426 451 respectively). This decrease was observed in both sexes and all age groups. Telemedicine visits were characterized by a 10% lower prescription ratio compared to in-person visits. Thus, a threefold increase in telemedicine visits resulted in a further decrease in prescription ratios. The COVID-19 period was independently associated with a decrease in antibiotic prescription, with an OR of 0.852 (95% CI 0.848–0.857). Discussion: We describe a significant decrease in antibiotic prescription ratios during the COVID-19 periods that was likely related to a decrease in the incidence of certain infectious diseases, the transfer to telemedicine, and a change in prescription practices among community-based physicians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1134-1139
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Microbiology and Infection
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibiotic prescription
  • COVID-19
  • Community
  • Infectious diseases
  • Telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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