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BMC Fam Pract. 2019 Mar 28;20(1):46. doi: 10.1186/s12875-019-0936-5.

Dissonant views - GPs' and parents' perspectives on antibiotic prescribing for young children with respiratory tract infections.

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Department of General Practice, Monash University, Building 1, 270 Ferntree Gully Road, Notting Hill, VIC, 3168, Australia.
School of Science, RMIT University, Building 223, Level 1, Bundoora Campus, Plenty Road, Bundoora, VIC, 3083, Australia.
Department of General Practice, Monash University, Building 1, 270 Ferntree Gully Road, Notting Hill, VIC, 3168, Australia.
National Ageing Research Institute LTD, 34-54 Poplar Road, Parkville, VIC, 3052, Australia.



Antibiotics are not recommended for treating uncomplicated respiratory tract infections (RTIs), despite this, antibiotic prescribing for this is widespread. General practitioners (GPs) report parental pressure and fear of losing patients if they do not prescribe antibiotics, however, parental views on antibiotics for RTIs are unclear. Therefore, this study examined GPs' and parents' perceptions regarding antibiotic prescribing for RTIs in young children.


We conducted semi-structured interviews with 20 GPs, and a survey and focus groups with 50 parents and carers of children under the age of five between June 2014 and July 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. Qualitative data were thematically analysed using NVivo and quantitative data were analysed using SPSS.


GPs believed that parents expect antibiotics for RTIs and were more likely to prescribe them if parents were insistent. They believed parents would go elsewhere if they did not prescribe antibiotics. GPs suggested that there would be less conflict if parents were better educated on appropriate antibiotics use. In contrast, parents demonstrated good knowledge of RTIs and appropriate antibiotic use. Their main expectation from GPs was to obtain a diagnosis, discuss management, and receive reassurance that the illness was not serious. Parental satisfaction with GPs was not dependent on receiving antibiotics (r = 0.658, p < 0.001), and they would not seek another GP if antibiotics were not prescribed (r = 0.655, p < 0.001).


GPs and parents have dissonant views on antibiotic prescribing for RTI in young children. GPs perceived parents wanting a diagnosis and reassurance that their child is not severely ill as pressure to prescribe antibiotic. To overcome these barriers, targeted training for both GPs and parents to improve communication and reassurance that satisfaction is not related to receiving antibiotics may reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescribing for RTI in young children.


Antibiotic prescribing; Antimicrobial resistance; Children; General practitioners; Parents; Primary care; Respiratory tract infection

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