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Conjunctivitis advice 'cuts appointments'

Giving patients information about conjunctivitis can cut unnecessary GP appointments and reduce antibiotic prescribing, new research suggests.

GP researchers in South-ampton interviewed 25 patients presenting with conjunctivitis at one practice in a qualitative study published in this month's British Journal of General Practice.

Twelve of the patients had seen a GP.

Most patients could distinguish conjunctivitis from more serious eye problems and

only presented because they did not know the condition was self-limiting, the study found.

All patients preferred not to take unnecessary medication and only believed they needed antibiotics because their GP had prescribed them in the past.

Researchers concluded: 'Pro- viding information on the self-limiting nature of conjunctivitis may enable patients to enhance self-management, and reduce the use of topical antibiotics and the demand for urgent general practice appointments.'

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