Open Access Research article

Improving antibiotic prescribing for adults with community acquired pneumonia: Does a computerised decision support system achieve more than academic detailing alone? – a time series analysis

Kirsty L Buising1*, Karin A Thursky12, James F Black124, Lachlan MacGregor1, Alan C Street1, Marcus P Kennedy3 and Graham V Brown124

Author Affiliations

1 Victorian Infectious Diseases Service, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, Victoria 3050, Australia

2 Centre for Clinical Research Excellence in Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3050, Australia

3 Emergency Department, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, Victoria 3050, Australia

4 The Nossal Institute for Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Victoria, 3010, Australia

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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2008, 8:35  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-35

Published: 31 July 2008



The ideal method to encourage uptake of clinical guidelines in hospitals is not known. Several strategies have been suggested. This study evaluates the impact of academic detailing and a computerised decision support system (CDSS) on clinicians' prescribing behaviour for patients with community acquired pneumonia (CAP).


The management of all patients presenting to the emergency department over three successive time periods was evaluated; the baseline, academic detailing and CDSS periods. The rate of empiric antibiotic prescribing that was concordant with recommendations was studied over time comparing pre and post periods and using an interrupted time series analysis.


The odds ratio for concordant therapy in the academic detailing period, after adjustment for age, illness severity and suspicion of aspiration, compared with the baseline period was OR = 2.79 [1.88, 4.14], p < 0.01, and for the computerised decision support period compared to the academic detailing period was OR = 1.99 [1.07, 3.69], p = 0.02. During the first months of the computerised decision support period an improvement in the appropriateness of antibiotic prescribing was demonstrated, which was greater than that expected to have occurred with time and academic detailing alone, based on predictions from a binary logistic model.


Deployment of a computerised decision support system was associated with an early improvement in antibiotic prescribing practices which was greater than the changes seen with academic detailing. The sustainability of this intervention requires further evaluation.