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Volume 50, Number 4, August 2017

Recent trends in prescribing antibiotics for acute tonsillitis in pediatric ambulatory care in Taiwan, 2000–2009: A nationwide population-based study 

Lo-Yi Chang, Chou-Cheng Lai, Chun-Jen Chen, Ching-Yi Cho, Yu-Cheng Luo, Mei-Jy Jeng, Keh-Gong Wu


Corresponding author:

Keh-Gong Wu, Corresponding author. Department of Pediatrics, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, 201, Section 2, Shih-Pai Road, Taipei 112, Taiwan. 


Background and purpose: 

Acute tonsillitis is the leading diagnosis in pediatric ambulatory care, and group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus is the main reason for antibiotic prescriptions in patients with acute tonsillitis. The aim of this study was to analyze trends in prescribing antibiotics and to investigate the prescription patterns for acute tonsillitis in pediatric ambulatory care in Taiwan from 2000 to 2009. 



Data on children younger than 18 years with a primary diagnosis of acute tonsillitis were retrieved from the National Health Insurance Research Database of Taiwan from 2000 to 2009. Concomitant bacterial infections were excluded. Sex, age, seasonality, location, level of medical institution, and physician specialty were analyzed. Annual and monthly changes in antibiotic prescriptions and classification were also evaluated. 



A total of 40,775 cases were enrolled, with an overall antibiotic prescription rate of 16.8%. There was a remarkable decline in the antibiotic prescription rates for tonsillitis from 28.4% in 2000 to 10.9% in 2009. Factors associated with a higher prescription rate included older age, visits from eastern Taiwan, medical centers, and nonpediatrician physicians. Otolaryngologists had higher antibiotic prescription rate, whereas pediatricians had the lowest (21.9% vs. 11.6%). The rates of obtaining throat cultures were low although the culture performing rate in the medical centers was significantly higher (12.3%, p < 0.001). 



From 2000 to 2009, there was a remarkable decline in the antibiotic prescription rates for tonsillitis. Further studies to evaluate diagnostic tools such as rapid antigen detection tests or throat cultures to decrease antibiotic prescriptions are warranted. 


Key words:

acute tonsillitis, ambulatory visits, antibiotics, children, National Health Insurance Research Database, Taiwan