Context: Annual rates of antimicrobial prescribing for children by office-based physicians increased from 1980 through 1992. The development of antimicrobial resistance, which increased for many organisms during the 1990s, is associated with antimicrobial use. To combat development of antimicrobial resistance, professional and public health organizations undertook efforts to promote appropriate antimicrobial prescribing.
Objective: To assess changes in antimicrobial prescribing rates overall and for respiratory tract infections for children and adolescents younger than 15 years.
Design, setting, and participants: National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey data provided by 2500 to 3500 office-based physicians for 6500 to 13 600 pediatric visits during 2-year periods from 1989-1990 through 1999-2000.
Main outcome measures: Population- and visit-based antimicrobial prescribing rates overall and for respiratory tract infections (otitis media, pharyngitis, bronchitis, sinusitis, and upper respiratory tract infection) among children and adolescents younger than 15 years.
Results: The average population-based annual rate of overall antimicrobial prescriptions per 1000 children and adolescents younger than 15 years decreased from 838 (95% confidence interval [CI], 711-966) in 1989-1990 to 503 (95% CI, 419-588) in 1999-2000 (P for slope <.001). The visit-based rate decreased from 330 antimicrobial prescriptions per 1000 office visits (95% CI, 305-355) to 234 (95% CI, 210-257; P for slope <.001). For the 5 respiratory tract infections, the population-based prescribing rate decreased from 674 (95% CI, 568-781) to 379 (95% CI, 311-447; P for slope <.001) and the visit-based prescribing rate decreased from 715 (95% CI, 682-748) to 613 (95% CI, 570-657; P for slope <.001). Both population- and visit-based prescribing rates decreased for pharyngitis and upper respiratory tract infection; however, for otitis media and bronchitis, declines were only observed in the population-based rate. Prescribing rates for sinusitis remained stable.
Conclusion: The rate of antimicrobial prescribing overall and for respiratory tract infections by office-based physicians for children and adolescents younger than 15 years decreased significantly between 1989-1990 and 1999-2000.