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Booklets help ensure antibiotic use reduction

Compiled by Vari Drennan, professor of healthcare and policy research, Kingston University and St. George’s, University of London.

Many parents consult primary care clinicians when their children have acute upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs). Most URTIs are viral but antibiotics continue to be prescribed despite the problem of growing antibiotic resistance.

Database search on antibiotic prescription reduction
A review has been conducted over antibiotic
prescription reduction
Picture: iStock

This Cochrane systematic review investigated whether the use of antibiotics is reduced if parents are given written information. A database search identified two randomised control trials that met the criteria.

One included 558 children from 61 general practices in England and Wales and the other included 33,792 patient-doctor consultations in the USA.

In both studies clinicians provided written information to parents in the intervention branch: an 8-page booklet in the UK and 2-page government sponsored pamphlet in the USA.

Significant results

Both studies reported a significant reduction in antibiotic prescribing for the intervention group. The UK study also reported a significant reduction in antibiotic use by parents with no significant effect on re-consultation or parent satisfaction.

Neither study reported on resolution of symptoms or parents’ knowledge about antibiotics for URTIs, so questions remain unanswered.


O'Sullivan JW1, Harvey RT, Glasziou PP et al (2016) Written information for patients (or parents of child patients) to reduce the use of antibiotics for acute upper respiratory tract infections in primary care. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 11:CD011360.

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