Trends Over Time in Use of Nonrecommended Tests and Treatments Since Publication of the American Academy of Pediatrics Bronchiolitis Guideline

Samantha A. House, Jennifer R. Marin, Matthew Hall, Shawn L. Ralston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Importance: Acute viral bronchiolitis is a common and costly pediatric condition for which clinical practice guidelines discourage use of diagnostic tests and therapies. Objective: To evaluate trends over time for use of nonrecommended services for bronchiolitis since publication of the American Academy of Pediatrics clinical practice guideline on bronchiolitis (originally published in October 2006 and updated in November 2014). Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study was conducted using interrupted time-series regression analysis adjusting for the hospital providing service, patient demographic characteristics, and payer, with 2014 guideline update publication as the event point. Included patients were children younger than 2 years old discharged from the emergency department (ED) or hospital inpatient setting with a primary diagnosis of bronchiolitis at US Children's Hospitals contributing data to the Pediatric Health Information Systems database. Data were analyzed from June through December 2020. Main Outcomes and Measures: Rates of nonrecommended tests (ie, chest radiography, viral testing, and complete blood cell count) and treatments (ie, bronchodilators, corticosteroids, antibiotics) were measured. Results: Among 602 375 encounters involving children with a primary diagnosis of bronchiolitis, 404 203 encounters (67.1%) were ED discharges and 198 172 encounters (32.9%) were inpatient discharges; 468 226 encounters (77.7%) involved children younger than 12 months, and 356 796 encounters (59.2%) involved boys. In the period after initial guideline publication (ie, November 2006 to November 2014), a negative use trajectory was found in all measures except viral testing in the ED group. Using the 2014 guideline update as the event point, several measures showed decreased use between study time periods. The greatest decrease was in bronchodilator use, which changed by -13.5 percentage points in the ED group (95% CI, -15.2 percentage points to -11.8 percentage points) and -11.3 percentage points in the inpatient group (95% CI, -13.1 percentage points to -9.4 percentage points). In the period after the 2014 guideline update (ie, December 2014 to December 2019), bronchodilators also showed the greatest change in usage trajectory, steepening more than 2-fold in both groups. In the ED group, the negative trajectory steepened from -0.11% monthly (95% CI, -0.13% to -0.09%) in the first guideline period to a new mean monthly slope of -0.26% (95% CI, -0.30% to -0.23%). In the inpatient group, the mean monthly slope steepened from -0.08% (95% CI, -0.10 to -0.05%) to -0.26% (95% CI, 0.30% to -0.22%). Length of stay decreased from 2.0 days (95% CI, 1.9 days to 2.1 days) to 1.7 days (95% CI, 1.7 days to 1.8 days). Hospital admission rate decreased from 18.0% (95% CI, 13.8% to 22.2%) to 17.8% (95% CI, 13.6 to 22.1%). Conclusions and Relevance: This cohort study with interrupted time-series analysis found that use of most nonrecommended bronchiolitis services decreased continuously after 2006. The rate of decline in bronchodilator use increased more than 2-fold after the 2014 guideline update. These findings support potential associations of practice guidelines with improved bronchiolitis care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e2037356
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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