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Antibiotic Use in Korean Children Diagnosed With Acute Bronchiolitis: Analysis of the National Health Insurance Reimbursement Data.

BACKGROUND: Acute bronchiolitis, the most common lower respiratory tract infection in infants, is mostly caused by respiratory viruses. However, antibiotics are prescribed to about 25% of children with acute bronchiolitis. This inappropriate use of antibiotics for viral infections induces antibiotic resistance. This study aimed to determine the antibiotic prescription rate and the factors associated with antibiotic use in children with acute bronchiolitis in Korea, where antibiotic use and resistance rates are high.

METHODS: Healthcare data of children aged < 24 months who were diagnosed with acute bronchiolitis between 2016 and 2019 were acquired from the National Health Insurance system reimbursement claims data. Antibiotic prescription rates and associated factors were evaluated.

RESULTS: A total of 3,638,424 visits were analyzed. The antibiotic prescription rate was 51.8%, which decreased over time ( P < 0.001). In the multivariate analysis, toddlers (vs. infants), non-capital areas (vs. capital areas), primary clinics and non-tertiary hospitals (vs. tertiary hospitals), inpatients (vs. outpatients), and non-pediatricians (vs. pediatricians) showed a significant association with antibiotic prescription ( P < 0.001). Fourteen cities and provinces in the non-capital area exhibited a wide range of antibiotic prescription rates ranging from 41.2% to 65.4%, and five (35.7%) of them showed lower antibiotic prescription rates than that of the capital area.

CONCLUSION: In Korea, the high antibiotic prescription rates for acute bronchiolitis varied by patient age, region, medical facility type, clinical setting, and physician specialty. These factors should be considered when establishing strategies to promote appropriate antibiotic use.

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