What can be done about it?

Research has shown that patient (and parent) satisfaction is more related to having a careful examination and having their concerns identified and addressed than to receiving a prescription for antibiotics. This provides us with a great opportunity, and many GPs are already very good at providing patients with information and reassuring them.

We know how busy GPs and nurses are, and how important it is to use precious consultation time efficiently. In order to address the whole range of information needs that parents of ill children might have, within a busy consultation, clinicians need to have a range of ‘tools’ at their disposal.

The use of leaflets

There is evidence that the use of a leaflet outlining the natural history of cough in adults, resulted in a reduction in antibiotic use. Reductions in antibiotic prescribing have been shown to result in reductions in future demand for consultations. So it is worth investing a bit of time in these consultations in order to reap future benefits. There is also emerging data from Wales showing that reduced antibiotic use in a community results in reductions in resistance levels within that community.

Most GPs have access to many leaflets, both paper ones and ones that can be printed off their computer system or the web. Unfortunately many of these leaflets are not evidence based, and none of the leaflets on respiratory tract infections, as far as we are aware, have been developed with such extensive input from parents, GPs and paediatricians.