Assessing the impact of national guidelines on the management of children hospitalized for acute bronchiolitis

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2014 Jul;49(7):688-94. doi: 10.1002/ppul.22835. Epub 2013 Jul 19.


Background: Acute bronchiolitis is a common illness accounting for $500 million annually in hospitalizations. Despite the frequency of bronchiolitis, its diagnosis and management is variable. To address this variability, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published an evidence-based practice management guideline for bronchiolitis in 2006.

Objective: Assess for changes in physician behavior in the management of bronchiolitis before and after publication of the 2006 AAP bronchiolitis guideline.

Methods: A retrospective chart review was performed at two academic medical centers of children <24 months of age admitted to the hospital with a primary or secondary discharge diagnosis of bronchiolitis. Pre-guideline charts were gathered from 2004 to 2005 and post-guideline charts from 2007 to 2008. Evaluation and therapeutic interventions prior to and during hospitalization were analyzed. Data were analyzed using chi-squared analysis for categorical variables, Mann-Whitney testing for continuous variables.

Results: One thousand two hundred thirty-three patients met inclusion criteria. Diagnostic laboratory testing rates did not decline after guideline publication. The number of chest X-rays obtained decreased from 72.9% to 66.7% post-guidelines (P = 0.02). Fewer children received a trial of racemic epinephrine (17.8% vs. 12.2%, P = 0.006) or albuterol (81.6% vs. 72.6%, P < 0.0001) post-guidelines, and physicians more often discontinued albuterol when documented ineffective in the post-guidelines period (28.6% vs. 78.9%, P < 0.0001). Corticosteroid use in children without a history of RAD or asthma dropped post-guidelines (26.5% vs. 17.5%, P < 0.0001).

Conclusions: A modest change in physician behavior in the inpatient management of bronchiolitis was seen post-guidelines. Additional health care provider training and education is warranted to reduce unnecessary interventions and healthcare resources use.

Keywords: 2006 AAP guidelines; physician behavior; practice management.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Bronchiolitis / diagnosis*
  • Bronchiolitis / therapy*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Missouri
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rhode Island
  • Societies, Medical
  • Treatment Outcome