Characteristics of children consulting for cough, sore throat, or earache
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Abstract BACKGROUND: GPs are often consulted for respiratory tract symptoms in children. AIM: To explore characteristics of children, their parents, and their GPs that are correlated with consulting a GP for cough, sore throat, or earache. DESIGN OF STUDY: Second Dutch National Survey of General Practice (DNSGP-2) with a health interview and an additional questionnaire. SETTING: Children aged 0-17 years registered with 122 GPs in Dutch general practice. METHOD: Characteristics of patients and their GPs were derived from the DNSGP-2 health interview and a questionnaire, respectively. Characteristics of the illness symptoms and GP consultation were acquired by means of an additional questionnaire. Data were analysed using multivariate logistic regression. RESULTS: Of all children who completed the questionnaire, 550 reported cough, sore throat, or earache in the 2 weeks preceding the interview with 147 of them consulting their GP. Young children more frequently consulted the GP for respiratory symptoms, as did children with fever, longer duration of symptoms, those reporting their health to be 'poor to good', and living in an urban area. When parents were worried, and when a child or their parents were cued by someone else, the GP was also consulted more often. GP-related determinants were not associated with GP consultation by children. CONCLUSION: This study emphasises the importance of establishing the reasons behind children with respiratory tract symptoms consulting their GP. When GPs are aware of possible determinants of the decision to consult a GP, more appropriate advice and reassurance can be given regarding these respiratory symptoms, which are generally self-limiting.