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Explanatory booklet halves antibiotic prescribing for childhood respiratory tract infections

By Mark Pownall

Antibiotic use for childhood respiratory tract infections could be cut by a half just by giving parents an explanatory booklet developed by GP researchers.

Their evaluation of When should I worry? also suggests only 55% of parents who were given the booklet said they would consult if their child had a similar illness in the future, compared to 76% of parents in a control group.

GPs in 61 English and Welsh practices were recruited. Half were trained online to use the booklet in their consultations, and gave it to parents at the end of the consultation. The booklet was designed to address the beliefs, fears and expectations of parents, and provides information, for example, that coughs can last several weeks, and that antibiotics are of little or no benefit.

In the two weeks after consultation 43% of the children in the control group received antibiotics, compared to 22% in the intervention group.

It found that parents had a high degree of satisfaction with their care whether or not they had the booklet explanation and its associated lower level of antibiotic prescription.

Study author Professor Chris Butler, professor of primary care medicine at the University of Cardiff and a GP in Mountain Ash, Glamorgan said: ‘Parents were involved in decision making and were happy to accept non-antibiotic management. We also gave information about what to do if things did not go as expected which provided a safety net for parents.'

Researchers have found the booklet helps cut antibiotic prescribing Researchers have found the booklet helps cut antibiotic prescribing Download the booklet

You can download the full When should I worry? booklet by clicking here.

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