Dr Roberts says a major focus of the research was working on the letter, with a GP advisory group, to ensure the simple messaging was appropriate and not likely to upset people.
Dr Roberts says, since starting the study, follow-up studies of the similar intervention research in the UK and Australia have been published showing that the simple intervention leads to a sustained change in prescribing behaviour.
The pandemic had stopped New Zealand following up its own study but Dr Roberts says the research was an “impressive piece of work” and publication of the results may be the impetus to repeat it next year.
“We are estimating that at some stage, when our borders open up, we are going to have other respiratory viruses, a bit like RSV this winter, come into New Zealand and that may change prescribing practice at that time.
“We are still trying to get the message out that antibiotics don’t work for viruses.”