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Desire for Antibiotics for Sore Throat May Reflect Pain

Analgesia may avoid need for antibiotics

TUESDAY, Dec. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with sore throat who visit their family physician hoping for antibiotics may in fact want pain relief, suggesting that adequate analgesia may avoid the need for antibiotics, according to a report in the November/December issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Mieke L. van Driel, M.D., M.Sc., from Ghent University in Belgium, and colleagues surveyed 298 patients visiting a family physician for acute sore throat regarding the importance of different reasons for their visit. They also provided questionnaires to the 68 physicians who treated the patients.

The researchers found the most common reasons for a patient visit was to determine the cause of their symptoms, to find pain relief and to obtain information on disease course. Although the desire for antibiotics was ranked low, at 11th of 13 items, the desire for pain relief was a strong predictor of wanting antibiotics -- as were feeling unwell, having faith that antibiotics would speed recovery and being unconvinced that sore throat was a self-limiting disease.

"Our study suggests that patients with acute sore throat and who hope for antibiotics may in fact want treatment for pain," van Driel and colleagues conclude. "Trials are needed to test whether exploring patients' expectations about pain management and offering adequate analgesia can assist physicians in managing sore throats without prescribing antibiotics."

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