Unnecessary antibiotic use in pediatric care can be cut down with enhanced communication

Improving communication between parents and healthcare providers can help reduce the use of unnecessary antibiotics in pediatric care, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Communication Research.

Researchers examined 134 U.S. parents who were given antibiotics to administer to their children. They were told not to use the antibiotics unless the child's condition worsened within a particular time period. The children were all under five years of age.

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The researchers asked the parents to recount their interactions with their child's healthcare providers, specifically focusing on what they were told to do. They were also asked if they used the antibiotics.

The study shows that only 4 percent of parents — who were told to use antibiotics only if their child's condition did not improve — could remember receiving comprehensive advice for healthcare providers, including information about the infection and the risks of antibiotic overuse.

The study also revealed that when parents received comprehensive and detailed advice from providers, they were more likely to use antibiotics only if absolutely necessary. Additionally, researchers found that parents may not fully understand the consequences of antibiotic resistance even when the providers mention it. Thus, providers need to more clearly discuss the challenges posed by antibiotic overuse.

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