Children are more accepting of a parent who performs the nose swabbing technique study suggests

Samples of nose swabs taken by parents are just as effective as those collected by nurses at detecting respiratory illnesses in children according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Bristol published in the journal Microbiology Spectrum today [10 November].

Children’s respiratory tract infections, including coughs, colds, and flu, are the most common conditions treated in primary care.

The study was conducted prior the COVID-19 pandemic. It compared the quality of saliva swab samples and samples taken from parents with the samples collected by nurses. The study involved more than 300 parents and 485 children aged between five and ten in the Bristol region.

The samples collected by both parents and nurses were sent to a laboratory for clinical testing for the detection of over 40 common respiratory pathogens. Nasal swabs collected by parents were more effective than those taken by nurses (91.6 percent inter-rater agrement for viral infections and 91.4 percent inter-rater for bacteria, respectively) however, saliva samples collected by parents samples did not fare as well (69 percent and 78.1% for viral and bacterial infections respectively).).

Parents may be worried about taking a nose swab from their child for laboratory analysis of coronavirus, or other common respiratory pathogen. I would suggest them to have the confidence to perform the procedure. In fact, our research found that parents collected a higher number of human cells from the nose swabs compared to the nurses, which suggests that children are more accepting of a parent who performs the swabbing procedure.”

Dr Claire Woodall, Research Associate in Primary Care Infectious Disease Epidemiology Centre for Academic Primary Care and Study’s leading Author

Alastair Hay is a doctor and Professor of Primary Care Research at the Centre for Academic Primary Care at the University of Bristol who supervised the study and said: “Our study shows that it is possible for parents to obtain high quality nose swabs from children. This study, which was conducted during the COVID-19 outbreak has proven the advantages, convenience, and suitability of parental-collected swabs to identify respiratory microbes.

The research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Unit in Behavioural Science and Evaluation at University of Bristol, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund by the Daphne Jackson Trust in collaboration with the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute at the University of Bristol.

Journal reference:

Woodall, C.A., and al. (2021). Performance of saliva collected from parents and nasal swabs in molecular detections of respiratory microorganisms: A prospective study. Microbiology Spectrum.

Gemma Wilson

Gemma is a journalism graduate with keen interest in covering business news – specifically startups. She has as a keen eye for technologies and has predicted quite a few successful startups over the last couple of years.

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