Background: Biomedical research constantly produces new findings, but these are not routinely incorporated into health care practice. Currently, a range of interventions to promote the uptake of emerging evidence are available. While their effectiveness has been tested in pragmatic trials, these do not form a basis from which to generalise to routine care settings. Implementation research is the scientific study of methods to promote the uptake of research findings, and hence to reduce inappropriate care. As clinical practice is a form of human behaviour, theories of human behaviour that have proved to be useful in other settings offer a basis for developing a scientific rationale for the choice of interventions. Aims: The aims of this protocol are 1) to develop interventions to change beliefs that have already been identified as antecedents to antibiotic prescribing for sore throats, and 2) to experimentally evaluate these interventions to identify those that have the largest impact on behavioural intention and behavioural simulation.\ud Design: The clinical focus for this work will be the management of uncomplicated sore throat in general practice. Symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections are common presenting features in primary care. They are frequently treated with antibiotics, and research evidence is clear that antibiotic treatment offers little or no benefit to otherwise healthy adult patients.\ud Reducing antibiotic prescribing in the community by the "prudent" use of antibiotics is seen as one way to slow the rise in antibiotic resistance, and appears safe, at least in children. However, our understanding of how to do this is limited. Participants will be general medical practitioners. Two theory-based interventions will be designed to address the discriminant beliefs in the prescribing of antibiotics for sore throat, using empirically derived resources. The interventions will be evaluated in a 2 × 2 factorial randomised controlled trial delivered in a postal questionnaire survey. Two outcome measures will be assessed: behavioural intention and behavioural simulation.This study is funded by the European Commission Research Directorate as part of a multi-partner program: Research Based Education and Quality Improvement (ReBEQI): A Framework and tools to develop effective quality improvement programs in European healthcare. (Proposal No: QLRT-2001-00657)
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