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TARGET Study Paper Published in Lancet Respiratory Medicine

21 September 2016

The TARGET study algorithm paper was published in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine Journal on the 1st September 2016, which reported development of a new algorithm to support antibiotic prescribing.

One source of uncertainty for front line GP's and nurses treating children with RTI's and cough is not knowing which children might go on to need hospital care for their RTI - and that this uncertainty can drive the use of 'just-in-case' antibiotics.

The TARGET algorithm can reduce some of this uncertainty by identifying children at different levels of this risk into 'very low', 'normal' and 'high' risk.

The algorithm contains 7 characteristics* (mnemonic "STARWAVe"):

Short illness (≤3 days)

Temperature (parent reported severe in previous 24 hours of ≥37.8° on examination)

Age (<2 years)

Recession (intercostal or subcostal)

Wheese (on listening to chest with stethoscope)


Vomiting (parent reported moderate/severe in previous 24 hours)

The paper shows that when children have no more then one of these features, they have a very low risk of requiring hospitalisation for their RTI in the following 30 days - at around 1:300. 

This new evidence could help us better target antibiotics, and perhaps reduce our prescribing in this very low risk group of children. Chief Investigator Professor Alistair Hay was interviewed by BBC News on the algorithm.

The paper has received some significant media attention following it's release:

Pulse Today

Medical Press

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