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Managing expectations of antibiotics for upper respiratory tract infections: a qualitative study

Mustafa, Mohammed, Wood, Fiona ORCID:, Butler, Christopher ORCID: and Elwyn, Glyn 2014. Managing expectations of antibiotics for upper respiratory tract infections: a qualitative study. The Annals of Family Medicine 12 (1) , pp. 29-36. 10.1370/afm.1583

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PURPOSE Communication experts have suggested that it is good practice to ask patients’ directly whether they expect to receive antibiotics as part of asking about the triad of ideas, concerns, and expectations for health care. Our aim was to explore the views and experiences of family physicians about using this strategy with their patients, focusing the interview on the problem of eliciting expectations of antibiotics as a possible treatment for upper respiratory tract infections. METHODS We conducted a qualitative study using semistructured interviews with 20 family physicians in South Wales, United Kingdom, and performing thematic analysis. RESULTS Family physicians assumed most patients or parents wanted antibiotics, as well as wanting to be “checked out” to make sure the illness was “nothing serious.” Physicians said they did not ask direct questions about expectations, as that might lead to confrontation. They preferred to elicit expectations for antibiotics in an indirect manner, before performing a physical examination. The majority described reporting their findings of the examination as a “running commentary” so as to influence expectations and help avoid generating resistance to a soon-to-be-made-explicit plan not to prescribe antibiotics. The physicians used the running commentary to preserve and enhance the physician-patient relationship. CONCLUSIONS Real-world family physicians use indirect methods to explore expectations for treatment and, on the basis of their physical examination, build an argument for reassuring the patient or parent. In contrast to proposed models in the communication literature, interventions to promote appropriate antibiotic prescribing might include a focus on training in communication skills that (1) integrates these indirect methods as part of building collaborative physician-patient relationships and (2) uses the running commentary of examination findings to facilitate participation in clinical decisions.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Systems Immunity Research Institute (SIURI)
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Publisher: Annals of Family Medicine, Inc.
ISSN: 1544-1709
Date of Acceptance: 4 April 2013
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2022 10:31

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