The applicability and efficacy of guidelines for the management of acute gastroenteritis in outpatient children: a field-randomized trial on primary care pediatricians

J Pediatr. 2010 Feb;156(2):226-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2009.07.065. Epub 2009 Oct 15.


Objective: To evaluate the applicability and efficacy of guidelines for the management of acute gastroenteritis (AGE) as used by pediatricians.

Study design: This was a national, open, randomized, controlled intervention trial. The intervention consisted of a 2-hour course based on the guidelines for management of AGE. Seventy-five randomly selected primary care pediatricians underwent training in AGE management (group A), and 75 pediatricians who were not specifically trained served as controls (group B). Each pediatrician enrolled 10 children age 1-36 months with acute-onset diarrhea. Outcome measures were guidelines applicability, duration of diarrhea, and difference in body weight between the first visit and 5-7 days later.

Results: The baseline features of the children were similar in groups A (n = 617) and B (n = 692). A total of 404 of the 617 children in group A (65.5%) were fully treated according to the guidelines, compared with 20 of the 692 children in group B (3%). Most violations involved administration of unnecessary drugs or diets. The duration of diarrhea was shorter in group A (intention-to-treat: 83.3 vs 90.9 hours; P < .001). Weight gain was marginally, but statistically significantly, higher in the children treated according to the guidelines (per-protocol analysis: +16.5 gr vs -13.5 gr; P < .05).

Conclusions: Guidelines for AGE have good applicability and excellent efficacy. Adjunctive medical interventions are associated with a longer duration of diarrhea.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diarrhea / therapy*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing*
  • Female
  • Gastroenteritis / therapy*
  • Guideline Adherence*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Pediatrics / education*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Prospective Studies