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Towards a judicious use of antibiotics by doctors and patients

Applicant Schulz Peter
Number 65786
Funding scheme NRP 49 Antibiotic resistance
Research institution Istituto Media e Giornalismo Facoltà di Scienze della comunicazione Università della Svizzera italiana
Institution of higher education Università della Svizzera italiana - USI
Main discipline Education and learning sciences, subject-specific education
Start/End 01.05.2002 - 31.10.2006
Approved amount 258'100.00
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Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Towards a judicious use of antibiotics by doctors and patients

It is increasingly acknowledged that the progressive resistance to antibiotics is due to its improper use. Although the reversibility of the current situation of resistance is unknown, actions that could decrease the volume of antibiotic use without affecting quality of care should be considered.

The project should stimulate an increased knowledge and understanding among both the medical profession and the public at large of the multifactorial causes of inappropriate antibiotic consumption. The main objectives are to minimise the development and spread of resistance in out-patients, by a reduction of inappropriate antibiotic use. Efficient actions in order to tackle resistance have to consider the complex interaction between doctors, patients and other institutional constraints (e.g. pharmaceutical industry) over antibiotic use. We need still a better understanding of the patterns of prescription of antibacterial agents in different infections to identify where clinical practice needs to be improved. A major way to tackle resistance is by improving the communication. A social-scientific expertise about Swiss population`s knowledge on antibiotics as well as a better understanding about prescription of antibiotics during doctor-patient consultation are indispensable in order to improve individual use of antibiotics.

Previous research in the United States and other European countries indicates that among the major factors which promote the overuse of antibiotics one find the lack of education which applies to both providers and patients. Practitioners frequently acquiesce to misguided patients who demand antibiotics to treat colds and other viral infections that cannot be cured by the drugs, when they believe patients expect it. But plenty of evidence suggests also that doctors overestimate patients` expectations: about one fifth of patients leave general practice consultations with prescriptions they did not expect.

The study investigates the associations between information conveyed to patients and their knowledge about the risk of antibiotics. The study will examine furthermore patients beliefs in the effectiveness of antibiotics, related to questions like quality of life, physical and psychological well-being. Moreover, the research project is aimed at analysing the information the patients get from the practitioners and the pharmacies, as well as from the media, especially the press, and the package insert.

This study is an attempt to identify factors influencing patient`s attitudes toward antibiotics by analysing their knowledge and behaviour as well as the information sources concerning antibiotic resistance. The working hypothesis of the study is that patients` expectations when they consult their general practitioner are based on the fundament of a risk-calculation. To measure patients` risk-calculation of receiving prescription it is assumed that two main causes are to be distinguished, the first concerning directly the attitude towards antibiotics, the second regarding the lack of appraisal of non-antibiotic treatment. The consideration of people`s existing risk calculation is a precondition for generating a most adequate information campaign.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

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