Cross-border comparison of antibiotic prescriptions among children and adolescents between the north of the Netherlands and the north-west of Germany

Jan-Willem H. Dik, Bhanu Sinha, Alex W. Friedrich*, Jerome R. Lo-Ten-Foe, Ron Hendrix, Robin Koeck, Bert Bijker, Maarten J. Postma, Michael H. Freitag, Gerd Glaeske, Falk Hoffmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: Antibiotic resistance is a worldwide problem and inappropriate prescriptions are a cause. Especially among children, prescriptions tend to be high. It is unclear how they differ in bordering regions. This study therefore examined the antibiotic prescription prevalence among children in primary care between northern Netherlands and north-west of Germany.

Methods: Two datasets were used: The Dutch (IADB) comprises representative data of pharmacists in North Netherland and the German (BARMER GEK) includes nationwide health insurance data. Both were filtered using postal codes to define two comparable bordering regions with patients under 18 years for 2010.

Results: The proportion of primary care patients receiving at least one antibiotic was lower in northern Netherlands (29.8 %; 95 % confidence interval [95 % CI]: 29.3-30.3), compared to north-west Germany (38.9 %; 95 % CI: 38.2-39.6). Within the respective countries, there were variations ranging from 27.0 to 44.1 % between different areas. Most profound was the difference in second-generation cephalosporins: for German children 25 % of the total prescriptions, while for Dutch children it was less than 0.1 %.

Conclusions: This study is the first to compare outpatient antibiotic prescriptions among children in primary care practices in bordering regions of two countries. Large differences were seen within and between the countries, with overall higher prescription prevalence in Germany. Considering increasing cross-border healthcare, these comparisons are highly valuable and help act upon antibiotic resistance in the first line of care in an international approach.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14
Number of pages9
JournalAntimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control
Publication statusPublished - 18-Apr-2016


  • Antibiotics
  • Germany
  • Netherlands
  • Border research
  • Health services research

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