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Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases
Volume 12, Issue 2, Pages 93-97
Original Article

Beliefs and Behaviours of Parents Regarding Antibiotic Use by Children

Sean M Bagshaw3 and James D Kellner1,2,3

1Alberta Children’s Hospital and Child Health Research Unit, Canada
2Departments of Pediatrics and Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
3Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Received 14 October 1999; Accepted 18 March 2000

Copyright © 2001 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


OBJECTIVE: To determine parents' beliefs and behaviours about antibiotic use by their children in the ambulatory setting.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey, where a self-administered questionnaire was completed by adult caregivers of children before the medical assessment of the child.

SETTING: Three paediatric acute care settings (paediatric emergency department [PED], group paediatric practice and after hours walk-in medical clinic).

POPULATION STUDIED: Adult caregivers (n=114; 76% mothers, 19% fathers and 4% other caregivers) of children brought for acute care were surveyed.

MAIN RESULTS: Forty-one caregivers completed the survey in the PED, 37 in the paediatric office and 36 in the walk-in clinic. They believed that antibiotics were appropriate for ear infections (86%), pharyngitis (77%), bronchitis (49%), sinus colds (20%), cough (12%), colds (8%) and influenza (8%). Sixty-eight per cent of children had received antibiotics in the previous year. Thirteen per cent of caregivers reported previously requesting an antibiotic for their child, 18% believed a previous antibiotic prescription had been unnecessary and 19% had not complied with prescriptions in the past. Concerns about antibiotic use included antibiotic resistance (50%), harm to the immune system (40%), adverse effects (28%) and lack of efficacy (19%).

CONCLUSIONS: In this population, parental knowledge and understanding of indications for antibiotics and their adverse effects were good; however, incorrect beliefs and disagreements with physicians did occur. To improve patterns of antibiotic use by children, it will be necessary to understand parents' beliefs, behaviours and information sources better so that misconceptions and disagreements with caregivers can be addressed appropriately.