A prototype for evidence synopsis for hand-held computers* Based on: Review: Antibiotics do not lead to general improvement in upper respiratory tract infections. Evidence-Based Medicine 1999 Jul–Aug;4:121. Abstract of: Arroll B, Kenealy T. Antibiotics versus placebo in the common cold. Cochrane Review, latest version 8 Apr 1998. In: The Cochrane Library. Oxford: Update Software

QuestionStudy groupsOutcomes (n=5 studies, follow up 1 to 7 d)Weighted EERWeighted CERRBR (95% CI)NNH
Conclusion: in patients with acute respiratory infection, antibiotics are no more beneficial in terms of general improvement than placebo, and they are associated with a non-significant increase in adverse effects. NS = not statistically significant; RBR = relative benefit reduction. Other abbreviations defined in glossary; RBR, RRI, NNH, and CI calculated from data in article.
In patients with acute respiratory tract infections, what is the efficacy and safety of antibiotics (compared with placebo) in curing infection and improving nasopharyngeal symptoms?Experimental: antibiotics (tetracycline, penicillin, ampicillin, amoxicillin, erythromycin, and cotrimoxazole). Control: placebo.General improvement51.2%52.5%2% (−5 to 10)NS
Adverse effects9.7%3.6%82% (−25 to 340)NS