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Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997 Aug;151(8):824-9.

Strategies for managing group A streptococcal pharyngitis. A survey of board-certified pediatricians.

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Department of Pediatrics, Children's Memorial Hospital, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Ill., USA.



To assess the management strategies and knowledge of board-certified pediatricians regarding group A beta-hemolytic streptococcal (GABHS) pharyngitis.


Survey of 1000 US pediatricians in 1991, chosen randomly from the membership of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The survey included questions related to 2 clinical scenarios, respondent demographics, and knowledge of streptococcal pharyngitis.


Pediatricians who treated patients with pharyngitis. Of the 690 surveys that were returned, 510 pediatricians treated patients with pharyngitis and were included in the data analysis.


Data were analyzed using Chi 2 statistics for categorical data and the Student t test for continuous variables.


Antigen detection tests (ADTs) were used by 64% of the pediatricians; 85% used throat cultures. Strategies for diagnosing streptococcal pharyngitis were throat culture alone (38%), consider positive ADTs definitive and use throat culture when ADTs are negative (42%), ADT alone (13%), ADT and throat culture for all patients with pharyngitis (5%), and no tests for GABHS performed (2%). Thirty-one percent usually or always treated with antibiotics before test results were available. Only 29% of these "early treaters" always discontinued antibiotics when tests did not confirm the presence of group A streptococci. The drug of choice for treatment was penicillin (73%); another 26% preferred a derivative of penicillin, particularly amoxicillin. Many pediatricians altered their management when a patient had recurrent streptococcal pharyngitis. Nearly half of the respondents would use a different antibiotic than they used for routine acute streptococcal pharyngitis. They most often changed to erythromycin (25%), cefadroxil (23%), or amoxicillin-clavulanate (20%). Follow-up throat culture was obtained by 51% of pediatricians after treatment of recurrent streptococcal pharyngitis. A patient with chronic carriage of GABHS and symptoms of pharyngitis would be treated with an antibiotic by 84%; most (62%) would use a penicillin. Other choices were cephalosporins (19%), erythromycin (12%), clindamycin (3%), or rifampin plus penicillin (3%). Tonsillectomy was recommended for symptomatic carriers by 31% of respondents. Carriers without symptoms were less likely to be treated with antibiotics (23%) or referred for tonsillectomy (21%).


Most surveyed board-certified pediatricians managed acute GABHS pharyngitis appropriately, but 15% to 20% used diagnostic or treatment strategies that are not recommended. There was lack of a consensus about the management of recurrent GABHS pharyngitis and chronic carriage of GABHS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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