Changing patterns of Otitis Media in the Waikato region during the Covid Pandemic

Introduction. Acute otitis media (AOM) is a common condition of children encountered in general practice. A proportion of children develop otitis media with effusion (OME), which may require tympanostomy and ventilation tube insertion. Aim. The aim of the study was to compare the incidence of AOM in Māori and New Zealand (NZ) European children in general practice and the referral practices to secondary care for tympanostomy and ventilation tube insertion. Methods. The study was conducted in two parts: (1) an analysis of the incidence of AOM and OME in a rural Waikato general practice (Ōtorohanga) with a high Māori population over a 2-year period; and (2) an analysis of all referrals to the otorhinolaryngology (ORL) department at Waikato District Health Board and tympanostomy and ventilation tube insertion by this service over the same period. Results. The incidence of AOM was similar in Māori compared with NZ European children. The incidence declined significantly between 2019 and 2020 and 50% of children with AOM were treated with antibiotics. Referral rates to the ORL department were greater for Māori compared with NZ European children as were tympanostomy and ventilation tube insertion rates. Discussion. Although AOM is common, OME was rarely diagnosed. The clinical guidelines regarding antibiotic use for common conditions are not being readily adopted and further research is needed into this matter. The COVID-19 pandemic had a substantial effect on demand both in general practice and in the hospital sector. This may have been due to a reduction in the incidence of AOM or due to system changes caused by the pandemic.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners
© 2023 The Authors. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence.