Consultation expectations among patients with respiratory tract infection symptoms

Gitte Bruun Lauridsen, Mette Sejr Sørensen, Malene Plejdrup Hansen, Jette Østergaard Rathe, Dorte Ejg Jarbøl

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INTRODUCTION: Antibiotic resistance is a growing threat to public health, and antibiotic prescribing increases. About 90% of antibiotics are prescribed in general practice, mostly for acute respiratory tract infections. It is well known that patient expectations and general practitioners' misinterpretation of patients' expectations are associated with antibiotic overuse. The aim of this study was to explore Danish patients' expectations when consulting a general practitioner with symptoms of acute respiratory tract infection, and to determine predictors for these expectations.

METHODS: A questionnaire survey was conducted in Danish primary care during 2014. Patients aged ≥ 18 years were asked about their expectations to the consultation when consulting with symptoms of acute respiratory tract infections. Associations between socio-demographic characteristics, self-reported antibiotic prescription and patients' expectations were also explored.

RESULTS: A total of 567 patients with symptoms of acute respiratory tract infections were recorded as interested in receiving a questionnaire, 361 of whom responded. The majority expected an examination (94.6%) and an explanation (85.9%). About one third expected antibiotic treatment (32.3%). Patients who expected an antibiotic were more than eight times more likely to be prescribed one than were patients not expecting an antibiotic (odds ratio = 8.6 (95% confidence interval: 4.63-16.03); p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Most Danish patients expected an examination and/or an explanation of their symptoms when consulting with their general practitioner.

FUNDING: The study was, in part, funded by The Council for Quality Assurance in Primary Care in both The Region of Southern Denmark and Region Zealand. Malene Plejdrup Hansen received a postdoctoral scholarship in general practice and family medicine from The Novo Nordic Foundation. The sponsors have not been involved in the design or the development of the study.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: This study was registered with the Danish Data Protection Agency (R. no. 2013-41-2582).

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA5385
Number of pages6
JournalDanish Medical Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


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