: The inappropriate use of antibiotics is a major health issue in China. We aimed to assess nonprescription antibiotic dispensing and assess pharmacy service practice at community pharmacies in Shenyang, northeastern China, and to compare these practices between pediatric and adult cases. A cross-sectional study was performed from March to May 2018 using the standardized client method. Two different simulated scenarios were presented at pharmacies, namely, pediatric and adult acute cough associated with a common cold. Of 150 pharmacy visits, 147 visits were completed (pediatric case: 73, adult case: 74). A total of 130 (88.4%) community pharmacies dispensed antibiotics without a prescription, with a significant difference between pediatric and adult cases (pediatric case, 79.5% versus adult case, 97.3%, p = 0.005). Symptoms were asked in most visits (pediatric case: 82.2%, adult case 82.4%). Patients' previous treatment and history of allergies were both inquired more frequently in the pediatric cases than in the adult cases. Medication advice was provided more often in the adult cases than in pediatric cases. Antibiotics were easily obtained without a prescription in Shenyang, especially for adult patients. Adequate inquiries and counseling had not occurred in most pharmacies.
Keywords: acute cough; community pharmacy; nonprescription antibiotic dispensing; pharmacy service practice; standardized client study.