Study shows: There is a gender difference in antibiotic prescription

Women are more likely than men to be prescribed certain types of antibiotics: This has showed a study led by experts at Tübingen University hospital (April, 4th, Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy). We asked study co-author Evelina Tacconelli, Professor of Infectious Diseases at University Hospital Tübingen.

A gender inequality of antibiotic prescription is evident: Women are 27 per cent more likely to receive a prescription for antibiotics – between the ages of 16 and 54 women even received between 27% and 37% more. This is the conclusion of the study (systematic review and meta-analysis including eleven studies worldwide), which was financed from the German Centre for Infectious Diseases in collaboration with the ESCMID (European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases) Parity Commission. The antibiotics with the highest gender differences are cephalosporin and macrolides, which are commonly used for respiratory tract infections (RTIs). Interestingly, for quinolones, commonly used to treat urinary tract infections, no substantial difference between genders was observed. The substantial gender difference in antibiotic prescription cannot fully be explained, but the results suggest that the process of prescribing could be influenced not only by the physician’s knowledge and beliefs but also the attitude of the patients.
However, is very important to get to the bottom of this phenomenon: “Physicians should keep in mind the risk of gender inequality of antibiotic prescription. Our results could play an influential role in designing antibiotic stewardship programs that address reasons for gender inequality in prescription”, says Evelina Tacconelli. And what is about the gender of the prescribers – was this also subject of investigation? “Unfortunately data on doctors´ gender are not available, and as far as I now there is no research that analysed this point. We know only about medical students where knowledge (or better „lack of knowledge“) about antibiotics was checked and no difference was found by gender.”