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Objective To identify general practitioner (GP) views and understanding on the use of delayed prescribing in primary care. Design Qualitative semistructured telephone interview study. Setting Primary care general practices in England. Participants 32 GPs from identified high-prescribing and low-prescribing general practices in England. Method Semistructured telephone interviews were conducted with GPs identified from practices within clinical commissioning groups with the highest and lowest prescribing rates in England. A thematic analysis of the data was conducted to generate themes. Results All GPs had a good understanding of respiratory tract infection (RTI) management and how the delayed prescribing approach could be used in primary care. However, GPs highlighted factors that were influential as to whether delayed prescribing was successfully carried out during the consultation. These included the increase in evidence of antimicrobial resistance, and GPs' prior experiences of using delayed prescribing during the consultation. The patient–practitioner relationship could also influence treatment outcomes for RTI, and a lack of an agreed prescribing strategy within and between practices was considered to be of significance to GPs. Participants expressed that a lack of feedback on prescribing data at an individual and practice level made it difficult to know if delayed prescribing strategies were successful in reducing unnecessary consumption. GPs agreed that coherent and uniform training and guidelines would be of some benefit to ensure consistent prescribing throughout the UK. Conclusions Delayed prescribing is encouraged in primary care, but is not always implemented successfully. Greater uniformity within and between practices in the UK is needed to operationalise delayed prescribing, as well as providing feedback on the uptake of antibiotics. Finally, GPs may need further guidance on how to answer the concerns of patients without interpreting these questions as a demand for antibiotics, as well as educating the patient about antimicrobial resistance and supporting a good patient–practitioner relationship.

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BMJ Open

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Project No. 197. PI: Geraldine Leydon