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Skip to 0 minutes and 20 seconds Jane has brought Johnny, her 18-month-old son, to see Dr. Singh. [coughs] It’s been going on about three weeks now. [coughs] Started out like a normal cough, but it’s not getting better. He can’t sleep because of the cough and he’s hardly eating. [coughs] I just wanted to get him checked out. Dr. Singh thinks this is probably a bad cold, but wants to make sure she’s not missing anything. She needs to decide whether this child will get better or end up in hospital. She is conscious that she has many patients to see this morning, and has only 10 minutes to make the right decision.

Skip to 0 minutes and 56 seconds She also thinks the mum might be expecting antibiotics and will feel more satisfied with the consultation if she gets them. Jane wants to make sure her son doesn’t have a serious infection, [coughs] but she also has all sorts of other worries that she is hoping Doctor Singh will help her with. How to look after him, that he isn’t eating, [coughs] that he isn’t sleeping properly, what to do if he gets a very high temperature, if it’s OK to keep giving him the child paracetamol she has at home. [coughs] Dr. Singh does not know about Jane’s worries. She is focused on checking for any sign of a more severe infection.

Skip to 1 minute and 37 seconds Mum told me that he had a temperature, but he doesn’t have one now. Oxygen is normal, tonsils are looking OK. He’s got a slight crackle [coughs] from his lungs. Dr. Singh is worried. Children can go downhill fast, and it’s sometimes hard to be sure how sick they are. If this was just the first week that I’ve been seeing him, I would say let’s just watch and wait. The fact that it’s been going on now three weeks, he had a slight temperature, I can hear a slight crackle on his chest, I think it’s probably worth starting a course of antibiotics. OK. I’d expect him to start picking up over the next few days.

Skip to 2 minutes and 16 seconds Will the antibiotics take a couple of days to start kicking in? Yeah. If he doesn’t start to pick up, give us a shout and we’ll have another look. Jane didn’t really expect antibiotics [coughs] this time, but she trusts the doctor’s opinion that they are needed and will give them to her son. She also thinks that next time he has a similar cough [coughs] that lasts more than two weeks, she must come back for treatment. Doctor Singh thinks Jane is satisfied because she has been given antibiotics for her son, but most of Jane’s worries have not been addressed. Jane is still worried about her son’s symptoms and how to manage them.

Skip to 2 minutes and 56 seconds Our research has shown these are common worries that parents have. He’s not sleeping. How is he going to get better if he’s not sleeping? He’s not eating properly. What if it affects his development? How will I know if he’s getting worse? What should I be looking out for? What should I do if he gets feverish and shivery again? Should I strip him off or not? Is it OK to keep giving my child paracetamol? Will the antibiotics make him sleep and eat normally in a few days? If not, maybe I’d better bring him back. Parents will often leave the doctor’s surgery with many of their worries unanswered, and sometimes with antibiotics that were not expecting.

Skip to 3 minutes and 43 seconds Our research has shown that what parents really want is reassurance and advice. They want to know how to treat symptoms, how to manage the impact on their family, and what to look out for to make sure their child does not become seriously ill.

Animation Depicting a Clinician/Parent Consultation

The message from the animation is that the majority of parents are seeking reassurance from their primary care healthcare professional and not necessarily have an expectation of a prescription for antibiotics.

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