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Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2005 Jan;69(1):49-56.

Comparison of caregiver otitis media risk factor knowledge in suburban and urban primary care environments.

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Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Department of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences, Medical College of Wisconsin, 9000 W. Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA.



There are many risk factors for otitis media. Some of these, such as passive tobacco smoke exposure and childcare arrangements; have the potential to be modified. The purpose of this study is to assess caregiver knowledge deficits about risk factors associated with otitis media and their willingness to modify behaviors associated with those risks.


This study is a prospective survey study investigating knowledge deficits of parents or guardians of children ages 6-36 months about the risk factors of otitis media. The patients were consecutively drawn from a suburban and an urban pediatric practice. Any difference in survey results between these two groups was also assessed. Participants completed a survey of 21 questions with content including demographic and OM risk factor data.


A total of 401 caregivers completed surveys, with 213 from an urban pediatric practice and 188 from a suburban practice. There was a significant difference in the ethnic distributions of the two populations. The suburban population had a significantly greater family history of ear infections, number of ear infections in the past 12 months, and number of previous ventilation tubes placed. The urban population had a significantly greater number of smokers in the household and decreased knowledge about day care as a risk for OM. The urban population's question responses suggested a greater willingness to change day care arrangements to reduce the risk of otitis media.


Both populations demonstrated knowledge deficits regarding risk factors associated with OM and both populations exhibited willingness to modify behaviors to reduce risk. These findings demonstrate that there are opportunities for improving education regarding OM risk factors and that this education could potentially reduce risk for OM and in turn reduce the incidence of OM in children.

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