Antibiotic use: do parents act differently for their children?

Int J Clin Pract. 2012 Dec;66(12):1197-203. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-1241.2012.03013.x.


Background: Many children in the community take antibiotics inappropriately. Previous studies comparing parents with other adults suggest that parents are more judicious with antibiotics for their children. This study aims to explore the difference between parents' use of antibiotics for themselves and for their children.

Methods: The study adopted a combined qualitative and quantitative approach. Eight focus groups were conducted with 56 participants purposively recruited from community centres and of different socio-economic strata. The qualitative data collected were used to construct a questionnaire for the telephone survey, which recruited 2471 adults randomly selected from the local household directory, of whom 547 had ever brought their children or grand children for medical consultation.

Results: Both the qualitative and quantitative approaches showed that parents were more cautious with antibiotics for children than for themselves. The main reason was their concern of side effects. Fever was the most important drive for their desire of antibiotics for children. The misconception of antibiotics' effectiveness for sore throat was another determinant of the desire. These attitudes and behaviour were not affected by the respondents' sex, age, education or household income.

Conclusion: On the whole, parents did to their children what they would do for themselves, but to a lesser extent. Parents' better knowledge and attitudes will lead to more appropriate use of antibiotics for their children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Fever / drug therapy
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / drug therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents