Objectives: The Ear infections Attitudes Research study investigated parental attitudes and awareness towards acute otitis media (AOM) and evaluated the burden of AOM for affected children, their families, and parental work capabilities.
Methods: This study, conducted via online interviews in October-November 2010, included parents (N=2867) from 12 countries, whose children aged ≤3.5 years had experienced ≥1 professionally diagnosed AOM episode in the last 6 months (AOM-experienced group; N=1438) or had never experienced any professionally diagnosed AOM episode (non AOM-experienced group; N=1429). The interviews consisted of questions with multiple-choice, five-point scaled or free-text answers. Answers to multiple-choice questions were presented as frequencies of particular responses and those to scaled questions as mean values or percentages of parents considering each aspect as applicable.
Results: Parents considered that the main AOM burdens for affected children were pain (mean values on five-point scales: 4.4 and 4.5), disturbed sleep (4.3 and 4.3) and irritability (4.2 and 4.0) and for their families, sleepless nights (4.2 and 3.8) and worries about the child's recovery (4.1 and 4.3) and about potential long-term implications (4.0 and 4.3) in the AOM-experienced and non AOM-experienced groups, respectively. During their child's most recent AOM episode, 95% of parents in the AOM-experienced group used antibiotics, 76% reported that their doctors prescribed antibiotics for immediate use, 13% were advised to return for antibiotic prescription if symptoms did not abate and 9% received a prescription for antibiotics to use if symptoms did not improve. Both reported prescription and usage rates for antibiotics were higher than expected. When their child had AOM, 73% of parents had to be absent from work or rearrange their working hours. Among those who took leave from work, 67% stayed at home for 2-7 days.
Conclusions: Parents perceive AOM to be a burden for their child and families, particularly the pain and disturbed sleep due to AOM, and this disease had a significant effect on parents' ability to attend work. Given how common AOM is, this loss of workdays may lead to substantial financial burden for families and the society. Antibiotics were almost invariably used in all countries despite current guidelines.
Keywords: AOM; Acute otitis media; Awareness; Burden; Children; EAR; Ear infections Attitudes Research; Family; Survey; acute otitis media.
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