Unnecessary antibiotic treatment of children hospitalised with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis: risk factors and prescription patterns

Uri Obolski*, Eias Kassem, Wasef Na'amnih, Shebly Tannous, Viktoria Kagan, Khitam Muhsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a leading cause of respiratory tract infections, especially in young children. Antibiotics are often unnecessarily prescribed for the treatment of RSV. Such treatments affect antibiotic resistance in future bacterial infections of treated patients and the general population. This study aimed to understand risk factors for and patterns of unnecessary antibiotic prescription in children with RSV. Methods: In a single-centre, retrospective study in Israel, we obtained data for children aged ≤2 years (n = 1016) hospitalised for RSV bronchiolitis during 2008–2018 and ascertained not to have bacterial co-infections. Antibiotic misuse was defined as prescription of antibiotics during hospitalisation of the study population. Demographic and clinical variables were assessed as predictors of unnecessary antibiotic treatment in a multivariable logistic regression model. Results: The unnecessary antibiotic treatment rate of children infected with RSV and ascertained not to have a bacterial co-infection was estimated at 33.4% (95% CI 30.5–36.4%). An increased likelihood of antibiotic misuse was associated with drawing bacterial cultures and with variables indicative of a severe patient status such as lower oxygen saturation, higher body temperature, tachypnoea and prior recent emergency room visit. Older age and female sex were also associated with an increased likelihood of unnecessary antibiotic treatment. Conclusions: Unnecessary antibiotic treatment in RSV patients was very common and may be largely attributed to physicians’ perception of patients’ severity. Improving prescription guidelines, implementing antibiotic stewardship programmes and utilising decision support systems may help achieve a better balance between prescribing and withholding antibiotic treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-308
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Global Antimicrobial Resistance
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Antibiotic misuse
  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Children
  • RSV
  • Respiratory syncytial virus


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