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We write in reference to the paper by Williamson et al,1 which reported that total consultations for acute otitis media (AOM) have fallen between 1991 and 2001.
We conducted a similar study using the most up-to-date General Practice Research Database. Data were extracted for all AOM consultations for 0–18 year olds between 1 January 1991 and 31 December 2005.
We found a similar decline in paediatric AOM consultations between 1991 and 2001 (177.3 to 80.5 per 1000 person-years). However, with the inclusion of more recent data (2002–2005), we can see that the trend for the incidence of paediatric AOM consultations has actually stabilised since the year 2000.
This change in the incidence of AOM consultations may now suggest that the government initiatives to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescribing,2,3 and to decrease the number of consultations by encouraging the self-treatment of minor ailments4 has now reached its peak effect, and is no longer influencing patient behaviour. Thus, continued surveillance of this trend is warranted to establish whether this is a long-lasting effect in patient behavioural change.
Ian CK Wong's post is funded by the Department of Health Public Health Career Scientist Award. Paula Thompson, Mike Sharland and Ian CK Wong are members of the Specialist Advisory Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance, Paediatrics sub-group.