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Most respiratory tract infections have a viral aetiology and are self-limiting. Complications are rare, and there is only modest benefit from treatment with antibiotics. However, respiratory tract infections are the most common reason to consult a primary care physician and are responsible for 75% of the total amount of prescribed antibiotics in Western countries. Unnecessary reconsulting and excessive use of antibiotics aggravate each other and lead to high costs, increased antibiotic resistance and adverse reactions. Patients’ beliefs and expectations have a major role in consulting behaviour and the decision about antibiotic prescription. Studies found that more patients were seeking reassurance and information in a consultation than …
Competing interests None.