Health Parents grossly overestimate benefits of antibiotics

Parents grossly overestimate benefits of antibiotics

Parents overestimate the benefit of antibiotics in reducing the duration of acute respiratory infections in their children by five to ten times, new research by Bond University has found.

The University’s Centre for Research in Evidence-Based Practice (CREBP) found most parents believed antibiotics provided substantial benefits for common paediatric respiratory infections, despite strong evidence that they offered only marginal improvements.

“In the instance of middle ear infection, more than nine in ten parents believed antibiotics provided benefits,” said Bond University Professor of Clinical Epidemiology, Professor Tammy Hoffmann.

“On average, parents estimated that taking antibiotics reduces the duration of the illness by three days. However, from many clinical trials we know the actual average reduction in illness duration is about half a day.”

Professor Hoffman said the study was the first that quantified parents’ beliefs about benefits and may help to explain why parents often requested antibiotics. The study found that less than half of the parents discussed the pros and cons of using antibiotics with their doctor and around three quarters of the parents indicated they wanted more involvement in future decisions about antibiotic use for their children.

Professor Hoffmann said the study highlights the opportunity for improving GP consultations by adopting shared decision making, so that GPs and patients discuss the benefits and harms of taking and not taking antibiotics and together decide what’s best for each patient.

“Collaborative decision making between GPs and their patients also provides the opportunity to discuss and address parents’ overoptimistic expectations of antibiotics,” she said.

You can read more about this study here. Story credit: Bond University newsroom

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