Scarce information about comparative diagnostic and therapeutic patterns in paediatric outpatients of different countries is found in the literature.
To describe the similarities and differences observed in diagnosis and therapeutic patterns of paediatric patients of seven locations in different countries.
Cross-sectional, prospective, international comparative, descriptive study.
A randomly selected sample of 12,264 paediatric outpatients seen in consultation rooms of urban and rural areas and attended by paediatricians or general practitioners of the participating locations. Data on patient demographic information, diagnosis and pharmacological treatment were collected using pre-designed forms. Diagnoses were coded using the ICD-9 and drugs according to the ATC classification.
Among the ten most common diagnoses, upper respiratory tract infections are in the first position in all locations; asthma prevalence is highest in Tenerife (8.4%). Tonsillitis, otitis, bronchitis and dermatological affections are the most common diagnoses in all locations. Pneumonia is only reported in Sofia (3.8%) and Smolensk (2.3%). The average number of drugs prescribed per child varied from 1.3 in Barcelona to 2.9 in Smolensk. There are no great differences in the profile of pharmacological groups prescribed, but a considerable range of variations in antibiotic therapy is observed: prescription of cephalosporins is low in Smolensk (0.7%) and higher in the other locations, from 16.5% (Bratislava) to 28% (Tenerife). Macrolides prescriptions range from 12.6% (Toulouse) to 24.7% (Smolensk), except in Sofia where they drop to 5.6%. Trimethoprim and its combinations are used in Smolensk (23.3%), Sofia (11.8%) and Bratislava (8.7%). Check-up consultations are not recorded in Smolensk and Bratislava, whereas in Toulouse these visits account for 16.2% of all consultations and in the other locations the percentage varies from 6.1% (Tenerife) to 1.9% (Sofia). Homeopathic treatments are registered only in Toulouse.
Except in asthma prevalence, there are no great differences in diagnostic maps among locations. Significant variations in the number of drugs prescribed per child and antibiotic therapies are observed. Areas for improvement have been identified.