Using an index-based approach to assess the population-level appropriateness of empirical antibiotic therapy

M. Ciccolini*, V. Spoorenberg, S. E. Geerlings, J. M. Prins, H. Grundmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: The population-level appropriateness of empirical antibiotic therapy can be conventionally measured by ascertainment of treatment coverage. This method involves a complex resource-intensive case-by-case assessment of the prescribed antibiotic treatment and the resistance of the causative microorganism. We aimed to develop an alternative approach based, instead, on the use of routinely available surveillance data.

Methods: We calculated a drug effectiveness index by combining three simple aggregated metrics: relative frequency of aetiological agents, level of resistance and relative frequency of antibiotic use. To evaluate the applicability of our approach, we used this metric to estimate the population-level appropriateness of guideline-compliant and non-guideline-compliant empirical treatment regimens in the context of the Dutch national guidelines for complicated urinary tract infections.

Results: The drug effectiveness index agrees within 5% with results obtained with the conventional approach based on a case-by-case ascertainment of treatment coverage. Additionally, we estimated that the appropriateness of 2008 antibiotic prescribing regimens would have declined by up to 4% by year 2011 in the Netherlands due to the emergence and expansion of antibiotic resistance.

Conclusions: The index-based framework can be an alternative approach to the estimation of point values and counterfactual trends in population-level empirical treatment appropriateness. In resource-constrained settings, where empirical prescribing is most prevalent and comprehensive studies to directly measure appropriateness may not be a practical proposition, an index-based approach could provide useful information to aid in the development and monitoring of antibiotic prescription guidelines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-293
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2015


  • antimicrobial resistance
  • prescription guidelines
  • surveillance

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