Objective: In the present study, prescribing behavior of general practitioners (GPs) was investigated in the example of childhood upper and lower respiratory-tract infections (URTIs and LRTIs).
Study design: A face-to-face interview was performed with 352 parents admitted to seven primary health care centers for their children diagnosed with URTI or LRTI. Prescriptions ( n=331) written by 25 GPs working at these centers were analyzed regarding legibility, format and suitability of drug choice.
Results: Almost 60% of parents had self-medicated their children prior to admitting to the doctor. Of the patients, 29 (8.2%) were not examined by the physicians, but were directly prescribed medicine. The physicians did not tell the diagnosis to 25.3% of the patients, did not inform 41.2% of them about the drugs and did not caution 95.7% about the side effects. Further, the physicians did not inform 42.6% of the patients about drug use instructions, did not inform 83.5% about the warnings and did not inform 81.2% about non-drug treatment. Approximately 5% of the individuals remembered the name of the drugs. Only 26.3% of the prescriptions were easily readable, and only five scripts (1.5%) contained all necessary information. The majority of the patients were given antibiotics, penicillin+beta lactamase inhibitors being the first. Paracetamol was the most frequently prescribed analgesic/antipyretic for both indications, followed by nimesulide and ibuprofen.
Conclusions: The present study revealed inappropriate drug use in the treatment of respiratory-tract infections in children at the primary health care level in a district of Istanbul, Turkey. Furthermore, it has been shown that GPs practicing at primary health care centers should be trained to give adequate information about the disease and the treatment to the patients/parents to achieve good compliance and optimal drug therapy for children.