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  • 1 December 2018 to 1 October 2019
  • Project No: 391
  • Funding round: FR 15

Every year, millions of children visit general practitioners (GPs) with coughs. GPs give medicines called antibiotics to most children they see with coughs. However, antibiotics only help a small number of children with coughs. GPs use antibiotics to try to stop children getting sicker, but find it difficult to tell who they will help.

Unfortunately, using lots of antibiotics eventually makes antibiotics stop working. If antibiotics stop working, we will all be at risk from infections that cannot be cured. So, it is important antibiotics are only used where we are sure they will work.

Coughs are caused by germs infecting the airways. Antibiotics only work if infections are caused by a type of germ called bacteria. Coughs are also caused by other germs called viruses. It would help if GPs could tell which infections are caused by bacteria, but there is no good test for this.

However, new test machines are being developed which GPs could use. These ‘point-of-care’ tests use samples from the nose or back of the throat and give results quickly, allowing GPs to see if viruses or bacteria are there.

This study will involve GPs being given test machines for two months. We will look at how the tests are used and whether they change the treatment GPs give to children. We will ask GPs, and other primary care practitioners using the test, how the test fits into the flow of their appointments, and what information they need to use them. This study is necessary because these tests have never been used by GPs before.

Using our results, we will design a future GP study of point-of-care tests for coughs. This study will tell us whether these new tests could help the NHS safely reduce antibiotic use.

Amount awarded: £100,00

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Evidence synthesis working group

The collaboration will be conducting 18 high impact systematic reviews, under four workstreams.

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