Send to

Choose Destination
Acad Emerg Med. 2002 Jan;9(1):22-6.

Parental use and misuse of antibiotics: are there differences in urban vs. suburban settings?

Author information

Department of Emergency Medicine, Morristown Memorial Hospital, Morristown, NJ 07962, USA.



To compare the frequencies with which suburban and urban parents give their children antibiotics without first consulting a physician.


This was a prospective, comparative survey of a suburban emergency department (ED) patient population in New Jersey with an annual patient census of 60,000 visits and an urban ED in Connecticut with 58,000 annual visits. A convenience sample of parents with children <18 years of age were enrolled. Patients who were critically ill and/or not oriented were excluded. Subjects provided written answers to a series of closed questions regarding their knowledge and use of antibiotics for their children over the previous 12 months. Categorical data were analyzed by chi-square and Fisher's exact test; continuous data were analyzed by t-tests. All tests were two-tailed with alpha set at 0.05. The primary endpoint, antibiotic "misuse," was defined as parental administration of antibiotics to a child during the previous 12 months without the consultation of a physician.


Eight hundred one parents were enrolled; 424 at the suburban site. Parents in the suburban site were significantly different with regard to mean age (39 +/- 7.2 vs. 32 +/- 9.0, p < 0.001), percentage female sex (63% vs. 81%, p < 0.001), percentage white race (78% vs. 34%, p < 0.001), and percentage with private insurance (89% vs. 56%, p < 0.001). A higher percentage of parents at the suburban site had misused antibiotics (12.1% vs. 4.0%; p < 0.001). Using logistic regression, this significant difference in the rate of antibiotic misuse between the two groups remained after adjustment for demographic variables and insurance status of the parents (p < 0.001). Parents at the suburban site were significantly less likely to have been previously discharged with their child from an office or ED setting without antibiotics only to go soon afterwards to another health facility in order to obtain such medications (5% vs. 48%; p < 0.001).


Parents in the suburban setting were more likely to have misused antibiotics for their children. On the other hand, parents in the urban setting were more likely to have been discharged by a physician at one health facility and gone to another physician's office or ED in order to obtain antibiotics for their children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center