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Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2010 Dec;74(12):1419-24. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2010.09.022. Epub 2010 Oct 20.

Otitis media across nine countries: disease burden and management.

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Instituto de Atención Pediátrica and Universidad de Ciencias Médicas, PO Box 607-1150 La Uruca, San José, Costa Rica.



To assess the perceived disease burden and management of otitis media (OM) among an international cohort of experienced physicians.


A cross-sectional survey conducted in France, Germany, Spain, Poland, Argentina, Mexico, South Korea, Thailand and Saudi Arabia. Face-to-face interviews conducted with 1800 physicians (95% paediatricians, 5% family practitioners).Main outcome measures were the perceived burden on clinical practice (number of cases, complications and referrals) and first- and second-line management strategies for OM. Results are expressed as mean and range across the nine countries over three continents.


Respondents estimated an average annual caseload of 375 (range 128-1003) children under 5 years of age with OM; 54% (range 44-71%) with an initial episode and 38% (range 27-54%) with recurrent OM (ROM). OM with complications was estimated to be approximately 20 (range 7-49) cases per year and an estimated 15% (8-41%) of children with OM was recalled as needing specialist referral. There was high awareness of Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae as causative bacterial pathogens: 77% (range 65-91%) and 74% (range 68-83%), respectively, but less recognition of non-typeable H. influenzae (NTHi); 59% (range 45-67%). Although concern over antimicrobial resistance was widespread, empirical treatment with antibiotics was the most common first-line treatment (mean 81%, range 40-96%). The burden of disease is substantial enough that many physicians would consider vaccination to prevent OM (mean score 5.1, range 4.3-6.2 on 1-7 scale).


This large, multinational survey shows that OM remains a significant burden for clinical practice. Despite awareness of shortcomings, antimicrobial therapy remains the most frequent treatment for OM.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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