The views of parents and carers on managing acute otitis media in urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children: A qualitative study

Jennifer S. Reath, Sarah O'Brien, Letitia Campbell, Hasantha Gunasekera, Claudette A. Tyson, Deborah A. Askew, Wendy Hu, Tim Usherwood, Kelvin Kong, Peter Morris, Amanda J. Leach, Robyn Walsh, Penelope A. Abbott

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    Abstract

    Objectives: To explore the views of parents and carers regarding the management of acute otitis media in urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who are at low risk of complications living in urban communities. Study design: Qualitative study; semi-structured interviews and short telephone survey. Setting, participants: Interviews: purposive sample of parents and carers of urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children (18 months – 16 years old) screened in Aboriginal medical services in Queensland, New South Wales, and Canberra for the WATCH study, a randomised controlled trial that compared immediate antibiotic therapy with watchful waiting for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with acute otitis media. Survey: parents and carers recruited for the WATCH trial who had completed week two WATCH surveys. Results: We interviewed twenty-two parents and carers, including ten who had declined participation in or whose children were ineligible for the WATCH trial. Some interviewees preferred antibiotics for managing acute otitis media, others preferred watchful waiting, expressing concerns about side effects and reduced efficacy with overuse of antibiotics. Factors that influenced this preference included the severity, duration, and recurrence of infection, and knowledge about management gained during the trial and from personal and often multigenerational experience of ear disease. Participants highlighted the importance of shared decision making by parents and carers and their doctors. Parents and carers of 165 of 262 WATCH participants completed telephone surveys (63%); 81 were undecided about whether antibiotics should always be used for treating acute otitis media. Open-ended responses indicated that antibiotic use should be determined by clinical need, support for general practitioners’ decisions, and the view that some general practitioners prescribed antibiotics too often. Conclusions: Parents and carers are key partners in managing acute otitis media in urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Our findings support shared decision making informed by the experience of parents and carers, which could also lead to reduced antibiotic use for managing acute otitis media.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)202-207
    Number of pages6
    JournalMedical Journal of Australia
    Volume220
    Issue number4
    Early online date2024
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2024

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