Go to content

A time series analysis evaluating antibiotic prescription rates in long-term care during the COVID-19 pandemic in Alberta and Ontario, Canada


The COVID-19 pandemic affected access to care, and the associated public health measures influenced the transmission of other infectious diseases. The pandemic has dramatically changed antibiotic prescribing in the community. We aimed to determine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting control measures on oral antibiotic prescribing in long-term care facilities (LTCFs) in Alberta and Ontario, Canada using linked administrative data. Antibiotic prescription data were collected for LTCF residents 65 years and older in Alberta and Ontario from 1 January 2017 until 31 December 2020. Weekly prescription rates per 1000 residents, stratified by age, sex, antibiotic class, and selected individual agents, were calculated. Interrupted time series analyses using SARIMA models were performed to test for changes in antibiotic prescription rates after the start of the pandemic (1 March 2020). The average annual cohort size was 18,489 for Alberta and 96,614 for Ontario. A significant decrease in overall weekly prescription rates after the start of the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic was found in Alberta, but not in Ontario. Furthermore, a significant decrease in prescription rates was observed for antibiotics mainly used to treat respiratory tract infections: amoxicillin in both provinces (Alberta: −0.6 per 1000 LTCF residents decrease in weekly prescription rate, p = 0.006; Ontario: −0.8, p < 0.001); and doxycycline (−0.2, p = 0.005) and penicillin (−0.04, p = 0.014) in Ontario. In Ontario, azithromycin was prescribed at a significantly higher rate after the start of the pandemic (0.7 per 1000 LTCF residents increase in weekly prescription rate, p = 0.011). A decrease in prescription rates for antibiotics that are largely used to treat respiratory tract infections is in keeping with the lower observed rates for respiratory infections resulting from pandemic control measures. The results should be considered in the contexts of different LTCF systems and provincial public health responses to the pandemic.



Haverkate MR, Macfadden DR, Daneman N, Leal J, Otterstatter M, Mahdavi R, D’Souza AG, Rennert-May E, Silverman M, Schwartz KL, Morris AM, Saatchi A, Patrick DM, Marra F. Antibiotics (Basel). 2022; 11(8):1001. Epub 2022 Jul 26.

View Source

Contributing ICES Scientists

Associated Sites