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Consultations for middle ear disease, antibiotic prescribing and risk factors for reattendance: a case-linked cohort study

Williamson, Ian, Benge, Sarah, Mullee, Mark and Little, Paul (2006) Consultations for middle ear disease, antibiotic prescribing and risk factors for reattendance: a case-linked cohort study British Journal of General Practice, 56, (524), pp. 170-175.

Record type: Article


Background Otitis media is the most common reason for children to receive antibiotics, but there is no evidence about the effect of prescribing on reattendance.
Aim To evaluate the changing workload of middle ear disease in general practice, and the impact on surgery reattendance of prescribing antibiotics at first attendance.
Design of study A case-linked cohort analysis for antibiotic prescribing versus no prescribing at first consultation event.
Setting Two hundred and ninety-one practices spread throughout the UK recording for the General Practice Research Database (GPRD) and incorporating individual patient data records for 2 265 574 patients.
Method All middle ear disease coded events that can be classed within acute otitis media (AOM) or glue ear sub-categories (and excluding chronic suppurative otitis media) were selected for analysis when the first event was from 1991–2001. The effect of antibiotic prescription on the risk of reattendance using Cox proportional hazards regression was analysed.
Results Total consultations for AOM have fallen markedly over this decade, and glue ear consultations have risen but by a much smaller extent (26 000 decrease versus 4000 increase in consultations per year), which makes re-labelling an unlikely explanation of the fall in AOM consultations. In the 2–10 years age range, consultations for AOM fell from 105.3 to 34.7 per 1000 per year, with glue ear consultations unaltered (15.2 to 16.7 per 1000 per year). Antibiotic prescribing for AOM has stayed remarkably constant (80–84% of consultations), but antibiotic prescribing for glue ear has risen sharply (13 to 62%). Prescribing antibiotics increased the risk of reattendance for AOM (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.09, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.07 to 1.10) and has reduced the risk of reattendance for glue ear (HR = 0.92, 95% CI = 0.88 to 0.96).
Conclusion Prescribing antibiotics for AOM probably increased reattendance, but the opposite effect has been noted for glue ear, which suggests a treatment effect of antibiotics in glue ear. Further research is needed to clarify whether this possible benefit is worth the known harms, and if so in which subgroups of children.

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More information

Published date: March 2006
Keywords: acute disease, antibiotics, case studies, cohort studies, otitis media with effusion, reattendance, risk factors


Local EPrints ID: 62210
ISSN: 0960-1643
PURE UUID: d5e31136-aa20-44b6-b8bd-760f2a53d27a

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 10 Sep 2008
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 14:21

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