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Navigating colds, flus and other bugs: a guide for evidence based parents.

During the August's Gold Coast Skeptics in the Pub, Dr Amanda McCullough talks about the evidence behind the benefits (or lack there of) and harms of jumping straight to antibiotics for a quick cold or flu remedy. Of course there are circumstances where antibiotics should be taken, like when there is something serious going on like meningitis or pneumonia; however, in most cases of colds and flus the best remedy is waiting it out and rest.

Before taking an antibiotic, Amanda recommends always asking your doctor 5 questions developed Choosing Wisely:

  1. Do I really need this test, treatment or procedure?

  2. What are the risks?

  3. Are there simpler, safer options?

  4. What happens if I don't do anything?

  5. What are the costs?

And if you're still in doubt and want to look up the evidence, search the Cochrane Review database - they are known for providing highly rigorous, independent summaries of the available evidence in the form of systematic reviews (the best kind of evidence), and even provide lay summaries so that non-medical professionals can better understand the findings.

Listen to Amanda's talk: click here

Slides: click here

References from Dr Amanda

Theoretical domains framework and antibiotic prescribing:

ORCHID study: (158 children in Brisbane in first 2 years of life)

Sore throat decision aid:

Cough decision aid:

Middle ear infection:

Opportunities for management of ARIs:

Overestimate the benefits of treatment with antibiotics:

Overestimating the benefits of treatment:

Strategies to reduce antibiotic prescribing:

5 questions to ask your health professional:


About the speaker

Dr Amanda McCullough

Founder of Not Just Mum, Research Fellow at the Centre for Research in Evidence-Based Practice at Bond University,

Amanda is a respiratory physiotherapist who completed her PhD in the School of Pharmacy in Queen's University Belfast in 2012, where she worked as a Research Fellow until 2014 when she moved to Australia. Her research focuses on antibiotic resistance, behaviour change and medicines use in respiratory health. In 2018 Amanda received the Bupa Foundation Emerging Health Researcher of the Year Award for her work. More recently Amanda has trained as a life coach and founded Not Just Mum, where she offers workshops, one-to-one consults and coaching series to support intelligent, brave and honest women through the transition from passionate career woman to motherhood and back again.

Contact email:

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