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BMC Pediatr. 2008 Apr 24;8:15. doi: 10.1186/1471-2431-8-15.

Do pediatricians manage influenza differently than internists?

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Baystate Medical Center, Springfield, MA, USA.



Little is known about how pediatricians or internists manage influenza symptoms. Recent guidelines on antiviral prescribing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) make almost no distinction between adults and children. Our objective was to describe how pediatricians in two large academic medical institutions manage influenza and compare them to internists.


At the end of the 2003-4 influenza season, we conducted a cross sectional on-line survey of physician knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding rapid diagnostic testing and use of antiviral therapy for influenza at two large academic medical centers, one in Massachusetts and the other in Texas. We collected data on self-reported demographics, test use, prescribing practices, and beliefs about influenza and anti-influenza drugs.


A total of 107 pediatricians and 103 internists completed the survey (response rate of 53%). Compared to internists, pediatricians were more likely to perform rapid testing (74% vs. 47%, p < 0.0001), to use amantadine (88% vs. 48%, p < 0.0001), to restrict their prescribing to high-risk patients (86% vs. 53%, p < 0.0001), and to believe that antiviral therapy could decrease mortality (38% vs. 22%, p = 0.01). Other beliefs about antiviral therapy did not differ statistically between the specialties. Internists were more likely to be unfamiliar with rapid testing or not to have it available.


Pediatricians and internists manage influenza differently. Evidence-based guidelines addressing the specific concerns of each group would be helpful.

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