Both treatment guidelines and the amount of antibiotics used for acute otitis media (AOM) vary across western countries. Parental expectations and their awareness of antimicrobial use and resistance, which may also be influenced by the guidelines, are not yet completely known.
To compare parental experiences and opinions regarding the management of AOM in children with AOM in Finland and The Netherlands.
We sent the questionnaires via public day care in Turku, Finland, and Utrecht, The Netherlands. We asked about family background, child's history of AOM and parental experiences and attitudes about AOM treatment and antimicrobial resistance.
Of 1151 participants, 83% in Finland and 49% in The Netherlands had had at least one episode of AOM. Antibiotics were used more frequently in Finland than in The Netherlands, 99% versus 78%, respectively. More Finnish parents reported to believe that antibiotics are necessary in the treatment of AOM as compared to Dutch parents. Use of analgesics for AOM was similar (80% in Finland and 86% in The Netherlands). One-third of the parents had discussed resistance with their doctor. According to parental experiences, antimicrobial resistance had caused more problems in Finland than in The Netherlands (20% versus 2%). Finally, 88% of parents in Finland and 65% in The Netherlands were worried that bacteria could become resistant to antibiotics.
Treatment practices and parental expectations seem to interact with each other. Therefore, if we aim to change AOM treatment practices, we have to modify both guidelines and parental expectations.