Introduction: Acute bronchiolitis is the most common lower respiratory tract infection in the first year of life. Current expert opinion and scientific data suggest that pharmaceutical agents have little impact on the natural course of the disease.
Methods: Postal questionnaires were sent to all Swiss paediatricians to assess their current practice for treating acute bronchiolitis in children.
Results: Of a total of 937 questionnaires, 541 (58%) were returned. Of the respondents, 422 (78%) treat children with acute bronchiolitis. Up to 99% of paediatricians used bronchodilators in the outpatient and inpatient management, either routinely (up to 62%) or occasionally (37%). Steroids were used by 41% of the respondents in outpatient management and by 57% in inpatient management. The paediatric respiratory physicians tended to use bronchodilators and corticosteroids less frequently than the general paediatricians.
Conclusions: A wide variation in the treatment of bronchiolitis was noted. Despite lack of evidence of benefit most Swiss paediatricians use pharmaceutical agents in the management of acute bronchiolitis. In particular, bronchodilators and corticosteroids were used in inpatient management in Switzerland much more frequently than recently reported for Australian paediatricians. National guidelines could be helpful in reducing the variations in the management of acute bronchiolitis in our country.