Burden of disease in children with respiratory tract infections in primary care: diary-based cohort study

M. J. C. Schot*, A. R. J. Dekker, C. H. van Werkhoven, A. W. van der Velden, J. W. L. Cals, B. D. L. Broekhuizen, R. M. Hopstaken, N. J. de Wit, T. J. M. Verheij

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background. Respiratory tract infections (RTIs) are a common reason for children to consult in general practice. Antibiotics are often prescribed, in part due to miscommunication between parents and GPs. The duration of specific respiratory symptoms has been widely studied. Less is known about illness-related symptoms and the impact of these symptoms on family life, including parental production loss. Better understanding of the natural course of illness-related symptoms in RTI in children and impact on family life may improve GP-parent communication during RTI consultations.

Objective. To describe the general impact of RTI on children and parents regarding illness-related symptoms, absenteeism from childcare, school and work, use of health care facilities, and the use of over-the-counter (OTC) medication.

Methods. Prospectively collected diary data from two randomized clinical trials in children with RTI in primary care (n = 149). Duration of symptoms was analysed using survival analysis.

Results. Disturbed sleep, decreased intake of food and/or fluid, feeling ill and/or disturbance at play or other daily activities are very common during RTI episodes, with disturbed sleep lasting longest. Fifty-two percent of the children were absent for one or more days from childcare or school, and 28% of mothers and 20% of fathers reported absence from work the first week after GP consultation. Re-consultation occurred in 48% of the children. OTC medication was given frequently, particularly paracetamol and nasal sprays.

Conclusion. Appreciation of, and communication about the general burden of disease on children and their parents, may improve understanding between GPs and parents consulting with their child.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)723-729
Number of pages7
JournalFamily Practice
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • child
  • clinical study
  • primary health care
  • respiratory
  • respiratory tract infections
  • signs and symptoms


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