Background: Upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) are common in children. The cause of URTIs is usually viral, but parents' attitudes often contribute to inappropriate prescription of antibiotics, promoting antibiotic resistance. The objective of this study was to document and analyse parental beliefs on antibiotic use for children with URTIs in Greece, a country with high levels of antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance.
Methods: A knowledge-attitude-practice questionnaire was developed and distributed to Greek parents caring for children who were 5-6 years old, between January and July of the same school year. The sample of the study contained parents from all geographic areas of Greece.
Results: The majority of Greek parents (80%) believed that UTRIs are mostly self-limited, although 74% of them expected to receive antibiotics when such a diagnosis was given. Earache was the most common reason for which parents expected antibiotics (45%). Greek parents rarely gave antibiotics to their children without medical advice (10%) and most (88%) believed that unnecessary antibiotic use drives antibiotic resistance and they were happy to receive symptomatic therapy if instructed by their physician. Almost 70% of parents confused antibiotics with other medicines used for symptomatic therapy for a child with URTI.
Conclusion: Greek parents have a trusted relationship with their paediatrician and rarely give antibiotics without medical advice, indicating that parents contribute less than expected to antibiotic misuse. Parents also appreciate the benign course of most URTIs and the fact that unnecessary antibiotic use is harmful. More time needs to be invested in educating mostly physicians on the potential benefit from reducing antibiotic prescribing for children with URTI.