Visits to the doctor for a respiratory tract infection can lead to unnecessary antibiotic prescribing, but an online intervention with real-time information on locally circulating viruses may reduce mothers’ intentions to visit their primary care doctor, according to a study published in the Annals of Family Medicine.
A representative sample of mothers in the United Kingdom (n=806) was randomized to receive the online intervention, including locally enhanced influenza statistics, symptom information, and home-care advice, either before (intervention group) or after (control group) responding to a hypothetical respiratory tract infection illness scenario.
Participants in the intervention group had lower intentions to visit the doctor than those in the control group when adjusted for demographic and clinical characteristics.
Intervention material was generally well received, with information on symptoms and when to visit the primary care doctor rated as more important than information on locally circulating viruses.
If the intervention were rolled out widely, the authors surmise that it would have impact, given the high rates at which parents of children with respiratory tract infections visit primary care clinicians. The authors call for research to evaluate intervention effects on observed behavioral outcomes in real-world settings and examine long-term effects and cost-effectiveness.