Objectives: To examine attitudes toward the use of oral rehydration therapy (ORT) by pediatric emergency medicine physicians before and after being given recent data that might affect their practice and to see if there is a difference in responses based upon year of graduation from medical school.
Methods: A national survey of all members of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Section on Emergency Medicine was conducted. Respondents were asked about their use of ORT for mild, moderate, and severe dehydration, and then presented with data refuting the concern for longer emergency department length of stay with ORT. Participants were then asked about their knowledge of, agreement with, and reaction to these data. Demographic information, such as board eligibility and year of graduation from medical school, was also obtained. The graduates were plotted on a distribution curve by year of graduation, and the group was split into thirds.
Results: The response rate was 59%. Before being presented with new data, earlier medical school graduates used ORT 86% for mild and 33% for moderate dehydration, whereas recent graduates used ORT 95% for mild dehydration and 55% for moderate dehydration. Overall, only 23% of physicians were familiar with the new data, but 80% agreed with the new data, and 83% would now incorporate ORT into their practice. Although the earliest graduates were as familiar with the new data as recent graduates (24% vs. 19%), they were less likely to agree with the new data (74% vs. 90%) and to incorporate ORT into practice (75% vs. 92%).
Conclusions: When pediatric emergency medicine physicians are presented with data refuting the perceived barrier of prolonged time for the use of ORT, more practitioners reported that they would use ORT for mild to moderate dehydration. However, a substantial number, especially those who graduated medical school earliest, would maintain their current practice. Additional barriers need to be explored.