Reducing antibiotics for respiratory tract symptoms in primary care: consolidating 'why' and considering 'how'

Br J Gen Pract. 1998 Dec;48(437):1865-70.


We summarize recently published evidence showing that antibiotic treatment offers little or no benefit to most patients presenting with sore throats, acute otitis media, maxillary sinusitis, and acute bronchitis. Despite this research, the prescription of antibiotics for respiratory tract conditions is rising in Britain. This wastes money, encourages people to consult for self-limiting conditions, and causes bacteria to become resistant to antimicrobials. Ways of changing present practice are underresearched. Enhanced consulting skills, guidelines and monitoring strategies, patient education, and anti-inflammatory drugs for recurrent and chronic sufferers all hold promise.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Clinical Competence
  • Decision Making
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial
  • Humans
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Recurrence
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / drug therapy*
  • Risk Assessment


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents