Trends in otitis media-related health care use in the united states, 2001-2011

Tal Marom, Alai Tan, Gregg S. Wilkinson, Karen S. Pierson, Jean L. Freeman, Tasnee Chonmaitree

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

166 Scopus citations


Importance: Otitis media (OM) is a leading cause of pediatric health care visits and the most frequent reason children consume antibiotics or undergo surgery. During recent years, several Interventions: have been introduced aiming to decrease OM burden. Objective: To study the trend in OM-related health care use in the United States during the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) era (2001-2011). Design, setting, and participants: An analysis of an insurance claims database of a large, nationwide managed health care plan was conducted. Enrolled children aged 6 years or younger with OM visits were identified. Main outcomes and measures: AnnualOMvisit rates, OM-related complications, and surgical Interventions: were analyzed. Results: Overall, 7.82 million unique children (5.51 million child-years) contributed 6.21 million primary OM visits; 52% were boys and 48% were younger than 2 years. There was a downward trend in OM visit rates from 2004 to 2011, with a significant drop that coincided with the advent of the 13-valent vaccine (PCV-13) in 2010. The observed OM visit rates in 2010 (1.00/child-year) and 2011 (0.81/child-year) were lower than the projected rates based on the 2005-2009 trend had there been no intervention (P < .001). Recurrent OM (≥3 OM visits within 6-month look-back) rates decreased at 0.003/child-year (95% CI, 0.002-0.004/child-year) in 2001-2009 and at 0.018/child-year (95% CI, 0.008-0.028/childyear) in 2010-2011. In the PCV-13 premarket years, there was a stable rate ratio (RR) between OM visit rates in children younger than 2 years and in those aged 2 to 6 years (RR, 1.38; 95% CI, 1.38-1.39); the RR decreased significantly (P < .001) during the transition year 2010 (RR 1.32; 95% CI, 1.31-1.33) and the postmarket year 2011 (RR 1.01; 95% CI, 1.00-1.02). Tympanic membrane perforation/otorrhea rates gradually increased (from 3721 per 100 000 OM child-years in 2001 to 4542 per 100 000 OM child-years in 2011; P < .001); the increase was significant only in the older children group. Mastoiditis rates substantially decreased (from 61 per 100 000 child-years in 2008 to 37 per 100 000 child-years in 2011; P < .001). Ventilating tube insertion rate decreased by 19% from 2010 to 2011 (P = .03). Conclusions and relevance: There was an overall downward trend in OM-related health care use from 2001 to 2011. The significant reduction in OM visit rates in 2010-2011 in children younger than 2 years coincided with the advent of PCV-13. Although tympanic membrane perforation/otorrhea rates steadily increased during that period, mastoiditis and ventilating tube insertion rates decreased in the last years of the study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-75
Number of pages8
JournalJAMA Pediatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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