Do Paediatricians and Internists Treat Influenza Differently?

Little is known about how internists and pediatrics deal with influenza symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released antiviral prescribing recommendations that make essentially no distinction between adults and children. The goal was to compare how pediatricians at two large academic medical institutions dealt with influenza versus internists. Researchers conducted a cross-sectional online survey on physician knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding quick diagnostic testing and antiviral therapy for influenza at two large academic medical facilities, one in Massachusetts and the other in Texas, toward the end of the 2003–4 influenza season. They gathered information on self-reported demographics, test utilization, prescribing behaviors, and attitudes about influenza and antiviral medications. They completed the survey by 107 pediatricians and 103 internists (response rate of 53%). Pediatricians were more likely than internists to perform rapid testing (74 % vs. 47%, p <  0.0001), use amantadine (88% vs. 48%, p <  0.0001), limit prescribing to high-risk patients (86% vs. 53%, p < 0.0001), and believe that antiviral therapy could reduce mortality (38% vs. 22%, p = 0.01). Other attitudes toward antiviral therapy were statistically similar across professions. Internists were more likely to be unaware of quick testing or lack access to it. Influenza is treated differently by pediatricians and internists. It would be beneficial to have evidence-based guidelines that address the specific issues of each group.