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Worldwide Comparison of Treatment Guidelines for Sore Throat
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  • Graça Coutinho,
  • Martin Duerden,
  • Aurelio Sessa,
  • Sergio Caretta-Barradas,
  • Attila Altiner
Graça Coutinho
Reckitt Benckiser Healthcare UK Ltd
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Martin Duerden
Cardiff University School of Medicine
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Aurelio Sessa
Italian College of General Practitioners
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Sergio Caretta-Barradas
Respiratory Disease Center
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Attila Altiner
Universitätsmedizin Rostock
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Sore throat (acute pharyngitis) is globally one of the most frequent reasons for seeking healthcare. Its etiology is mostly viral. In 15-30% of cases, group A streptococci (GAS) are detected, which may cause acute rheumatic fever. We have done a worldwide systematic review to compare diagnostic and therapeutic guidelines across countries and regions. Previous reviews of sore throat guidelines were limited to specific regions and/or language; this is the first global review. Searches were performed in MEDLINE, EMBASE and COCHRANE (key words: sore throat, pharyngitis, tonsillitis or pharyngotonsillitis, and management, guidance, guideline or recommendation) and on the web sites of major health authorities and associated institutions from Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East, North America, Oceania and South America. Thirty-six guidelines were identified from 26 countries. Most common are recommendations relying on the symptom- and age-based Centor or McIsaac scores. However, antibiotic treatment may be based on other symptomatic criteria; in the most extreme approach just sore throat in children. The recommendation of GAS-specific diagnostic tests is mainly limited to countries where such tests are readily available, although some countries choose not to use them. Penicillins are consistently recommended as first-line antibiotics. By contrast, guidance for symptomatic treatment is variable and mostly sparse or missing. African countries without sore throat guidelines and Asian countries bypassing them are afflicted by rising antibiotic resistance. The availability of sore throat guidelines varies considerably by region and country. Moreover, important divergence is found among the guidelines regarding diagnostic and treatment criteria. This may be explained by the historical background or adoption of external guidelines, rather than the local incidences of GAS infections or acute rheumatic fever. Absence of recommendations on symptomatic treatment in many guidelines is concerning, and raises issues about antimicrobial stewardship, as this is the mainstay of sore throat management, rather than antibiotics.

Peer review status:Published

12 Jun 2020Submitted to International Journal of Clinical Practice
17 Jun 2020Submission Checks Completed
17 Jun 2020Assigned to Editor
23 Jun 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
29 Jul 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
27 Aug 20201st Revision Received
28 Aug 2020Submission Checks Completed
28 Aug 2020Assigned to Editor
28 Aug 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
17 Nov 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
18 Nov 2020Editorial Decision: Accept
07 Jan 2021Published in International Journal of Clinical Practice. 10.1111/ijcp.13879