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Delayed prescription reduced antibiotic use in the common cold

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 QUESTION: In patients with upper respiratory tract infections (common cold), does delaying prescription reduce the use of antibiotics?


Randomised {allocation concealed*}, blinded (patients),* controlled trial with 10-day follow up.


A family practice with 15 physicians in Auckland, New Zealand.


129 patients (mean age 25 y, 63% women) presenting with a new cold in which the patient requested or the physician thought the patient wanted antibiotics. Exclusion criteria were suspected tonsillitis, sinusitis, bronchitis, or pneumonia; lower respiratory signs; indication for an x-ray; history of rheumatic fever; serious illness; or antibiotic treatment in the previous 2 weeks. 95% completed the …

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  • Source of funding: Health Research Council.

  • For correspondence: Dr. B. Arroll, University of Auckland, New Zealand. Email b.arroll{at}

  • * See glossary.

  • Information provided by author.