Doctors must improve antimicrobial resistance advice to patients, say researchers

slide showing antimicrobial resistant bacteria

Doctors must improve the quality of the explanation they give parents if they want them to heed their advice about not giving their child prescribed antibiotics unless their illness fails to improve within a set timescale, according to the results of research[1]
published in the latest edition of the Journal of Applied Communication Research.

They also need to give better instructions to parents around ‘watchful waiting’ – the practice where antibiotics are prescribed but not recommended for immediate use, they say. 

The comments follow the results of their study which involved an online survey of 134 parents who had a child aged under five with a confirmed ear infection who were prescribed antibiotics and given ‘watchful waiting’ advice.

The researchers asked parents what they remembered of what they were told by the doctor about ‘watchful waiting’ and whether they followed the advice.

The researchers specifically sought to discover whether parents had been given information about the adverse effects of antibiotics, the nature of the ear infection, how to monitor symptoms, the management of pain relief and follow-up care.

They found that 10% were told about the adverse effects of antibiotics, 58% were given an explanation about ear infection. Some 75% remembered being told about monitoring symptoms and 29% received pain management advice. Some 22% knew about follow-up care during ‘watchful waiting’.

But despite their knowledge, 27% of parents admitted they failed to follow the ‘watchful waiting’ advice given.

The researchers conclude: “The findings suggest physicians can improve parent compliance with watchful waiting by improving the quality of the explanation and instruction they provide.”


[1] MacGeorge EL, Caldes EP, Smith RA et al. Reducing unwarranted antibiotic use for pediatric acute otitis media: the influence of physicians’ explanation and instruction on parent compliance with ‘watchful waiting’. J Appl Commun Res  doi: 10.1080/00909882.2017.1320575

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, June 2017;():DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20202933

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