Context: Children's cough is a daily concern for most pediatricians. The management of both acute and chronic cough requires a systematic and comprehensive approach. Despite the approved protocols for management, the pediatric assessment of cough and the corresponding prescribing attitude frequently do not fit these protocols, which can be affected by parental suggestions - sometimes substantially.
Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate both the perception and the behavior of a representative sample of Italian pediatricians toward cough in real life.
Methods: A specific questionnaire consisting of 18 questions was prepared. The questionnaire was completed by 300 pediatricians (all members of PAIDOSS: Italian National Observatory on Health of Childhood and Adolescence) who represented ~300,000 children.
Results: A vast majority of children have cough throughout the year (99.3% of respondents have cough during autumn/winter and 64.7% in spring/summer). Allergic disease is the most frequent suspected cause of chronic cough in children (53%), and this is supported by the high demand for consultations: 73% seek the opinion of allergologists, 62% of otorhinolaryngologists and only 33% of pulmonologists. The majority of pediatricians (92%) reported that they prescribe therapy in acute cough regardless of cough guidelines. Moreover, the survey pointed out the abuse of aerosol therapy (26% in acute cough and 38% in chronic cough) and of antibiotics prescription (22% in acute cough and 42% in chronic cough).
Conclusion: Our survey suggests that some Italian pediatricians' therapeutic attitudes should be substantially improved in order to achieve better management of cough in children and to minimize the burden of cough.
Keywords: acute cough; chronic cough; cough impact; cough in children; pediatricians’ prescriptions.