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Knowledge and Practices of Physicians regarding use of antibiotics in treatment of upper respiratory tract infection.


Upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) is a nonspecific term used to describe acute infections involving the nose, ear, Para nasal sinuses and the throat. Although 90 %-95 % of upper respiratory tract infections are viral in origin, antibiotics are often used to treat viral URTI. However, frequent inappropriate antibiotic use contributes to the emergence of drug-resistance bacterial pathogens. It is not recommended to use antibiotics to treat URTI and when indicated to use narrow instead of broad-spectrum antibiotics. This study was conducted to assess knowledge, and reported practices of physicians toward using antibiotics in treatment of upper respiratory tract infection.


A cross sectional study was conducted covering both governmental hospitals and primary health care centers in Riyadh city. A stratified random sampling technique was used. Final sample size of 3 hospitals and 20 primary health care centers were randomly selected. All resident/ general physicians of selected hospitals and primary care centers were treated as cluster and included in the study. Data was collected by administrating self-administrated questionnaires to physicians about their knowledge and reported practices about use of antibiotics in management of URTI.


The study involved 267 physicians, 144(53.9 %) physicians from hospitals and 123 (46.1 %) physicians from primary health care centers. Their mean age was 40.3 % (SDĀ± 8.3). Saudi nationality accounted for 19.4 % of physicians, whereas non-Saudi nationality represented 80.0 %. Most of the physicians were general practioners. Out of the total interviewed physicians, 86.5 % prescribed antibiotics for patients diagnosed to have upper respiratory tract infection. Amoxicillin was the commonest antibiotics prescribed by 57.3 % physicians and the most common indication to start antibiotics immediately was ill looking appearance and high-grade fever. Most physicians 62.5 % follow up their patients to assess the response antibiotics. only 36.0 % of physicians never prescribed antibiotics for patients diagnosed to have URTI and their main reason was that URTI is viral in origin. However, 55.6% would start antibiotics if patients had chronic lung disease.


Over use of antibiotics in practice is a common health problem. This study showed that antibiotics commonly prescribed for patients diagnosed to have URTI and broad-spectrum antibiotics were the common antibiotics used and this is a contributing factor to antibiotics- resistance bacteria.