Background.

Emergence of resistant bacterial pathogens has increased concerns about antibiotic prescribing patterns. Parent expectations and pressure may influence these patterns.

Objective.

To understand how parents influence the prescribing patterns of physicians and what strategies physicians believe are important if we are going to reduce inappropriate use of oral antimicrobial agents.

Designs and Methods.

One thousand pediatricians who are members of the American Academy of Pediatrics were asked to complete a semi-structured questionnaire. The physicians were chosen randomly by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Results.

Nine hundred fifteen pediatricians were eligible and 610 surveys were analyzable, for a response rate of 67%. The majority of respondents were male (56%), worked in a group practice (51%), saw an average of 114 patients per week and were in practice for 14 years. Forty percent of the pediatricians indicated that 10 or more times in the past month a parent had requested an antibiotic when the physician did not feel it was indicated. Forty-eight percent reported that parents always, most of the time, or often pressure them to prescribe antibiotics when their children are ill but antibiotics are not indicated. In follow-up questions, approximately one-third of physicians reported they occasionally or more frequently comply with these requests. Seventy-eight percent felt that educating parents would be the single most important program for reducing inappropriate oral antibiotic use and 54% indicated that parental pressure, in contrast to concerns about legal liability (12%) or need to be efficient in practice (19%), contributed most to inappropriate use of oral antibiotics.

Conclusions.

Pediatricians acknowledge prescribing antimicrobial agents when they are not indicated. Pediatricians believe educating parents is necessary to promote the judicious use of antimicrobial agents.

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