Search tips
Search criteria 


Logo of brjgenpracRCGP homepageJ R Coll Gen Pract at PubMed CentralBJGP at RCGPBJGP at RCGP
Br J Gen Pract. 2006 May 1; 56(526): 379–380.
PMCID: PMC1837852

Up-to-date findings show change in acute otitis media consultation trend

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. An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is bjpg56-379bS1.jpg


Competing interests

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.


1. Williamson I, Benge S, Mullee M, Little P. Consultations for middle ear disease, antibiotic prescribing and risk factors for reattendance: a case-linked cohort study. Br J Gen Pract. 2006;56(524):170–175. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
2. Select Committee on Science and Technology. Resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobial agents. 7th Report. (HL 81-I) London: HMSO; 1998.
3. Standing Medical Advisory Committee. The path of least resistance, main report. London: Department of Health; 1998.
4. Thompson M. Transferring the treatment of minor ailments from medical practice to community pharmacies. Pharmaceutical Journal. 2001;266:413.

Articles from The British Journal of General Practice are provided here courtesy of Royal College of General Practitioners