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Parental experience of prophylactic antibiotics


Background and objectives Long-term prophylactic antibiotics are often used to prevent bacterial infections. However, supporting evidence for this is not always robust. Including parents in decisions relating to medication is key to medicines optimisation. Parental concern regarding medication is a major determinant of poor adherence. This study explores parental experiences of having a child prescribed prophylactic antibiotics and how that affects their antibiotic use behaviour.

Methods We conducted a prospective, single-centre, exploratory, qualitative study at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Through 15 interviews, involving 18 participants, we explored parental ‘lived experiences’ and attitudes towards azithromycin prophylaxis prescribed for various respiratory conditions. Thematic analysis was conducted.

Results The overriding factor influencing parental decisions about the uptake of antibiotic prophylaxis is wanting their child to be well now. The main concern voiced by parents is that of antibiotic resistance given their children are high users of antibiotics. This is however seen as a problem for the future, not the present. Preparing families adequately helps prevent practical difficulties relating to medication. Facilitating ‘normalisation’ of prophylaxis through daily routines and minimising disruption to the family environment may reduce parental anxiety, promote adherence and result in easing of potential restrictions to the child’s daily activities.

Conclusion Grounded in our deeper understanding, we propose a behavioural model that describes phases parents go through while having a child on prophylactic antibiotics. Time invested in holistically addressing the parental experience and having an awareness of potential issues parents face, may facilitate medication adherence, reduce anxieties and improve doctor-parent relationships.

  • general paediatrics
  • respiratory
  • qualitative research
  • patient perspective
  • paediatric practice

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. The anonymous transcripts generated and analysed during this study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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