NPR: Patients Give Doctors High Marks For Prescribing Antibiotics For Common Sniffles

4 October, 2018

Extracts below. Full text here:


When they're sick, Americans seem to know what they want: antibiotics. And if they don't get them, their doctors' reputations may suffer.

A study published Monday finds that patients rated themselves happiest with their doctor's visit when they got an antibiotic after seeking care for a respiratory tract infection, such as a common cold, whether they needed the drug or not...

"It is very problematic because it creates an incentive for physicians to do things that are not medically necessary in order to drive up their satisfaction ratings," Martinez says...

Overprescribing of antibiotics is a growing medical and public health concern. Antibiotics can have side effects like severe diarrhea, and overprescribing them can contribute to antibiotic resistance.


This scenario is likely to be worldwide. There is a common misconception among patients that antibiotics can help a cold - and of course they believe this because colds are self-limiting and they are going to get better quickly anyway. There is a likely parallel here with perceptions about the effectiveness of traditional medicine (as described in my message a few minutes ago). Most day-to-day conditions are self-limiting and will tend to improve spontaneously in the days following care-seeking, whether this is with health professional or a traditional healer. There is also, of course, the placebo (and nocebo) effect, which applies in both modern and traditional medicine.

Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, HIFA Project on Information for Citizens, Parents and Children:

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 18,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on five global forums in three languages. He also currently chairs the Dgroups Foundation (, which supports 800 communities of practice on international development, health and social justice. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: