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Review: antibiotics did not lead to general improvement in upper respiratory tract infections

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Question What is the efficacy and safety of antibiotics for acute upper respiratory tract infections?

Data sources

Published and unpublished studies were identified by searching Medline (1966–97) with the content terms antibiotics, respiratory tract infections (upper), common cold, and pharyngitis; Embase/Excerpta Medica; the Family Medicine Database (Canadian College of Family Physicians Library); and the Cochrane Clinical Trials register. Bibliographies of relevant studies, review articles, and textbook chapters were reviewed and primary investigators of studies were contacted.

Study selection

Randomised controlled trials were selected if they included patients with acute upper respiratory tract infection (with symptoms including rhinitis, sore throat, cough, or productive sputum) who were allocated to antibiotics or …

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  • Source of funding: no external funding.

  • For correspondence: Dr B Arroll, General Practice, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand. Fax +64 9 3737006.

  • A modified version of this abstract appears in Evidence-Based Medicine.

  • * Calculated from data in article.

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