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Awareness of appropriate antibiotic use in primary care for influenza-like illness: evidence of improvement from UK population-based surveys

Pouwels, K., Roope, L., Buchanan, J. , Morrell, L., Tonkin-Crine, S., Peters, M., Jones, L., Castro-Sanchez, E. ORCID: 0000-0002-3351-9496, Crook, D., Peto, T., Butler, C. C., Robotham, J., Walker, S. & Wordsworth, S. (2020). Awareness of appropriate antibiotic use in primary care for influenza-like illness: evidence of improvement from UK population-based surveys. Antibiotics, 9(10), article number 690. doi: 10.3390/antibiotics9100690


Influenza-like illnesses (ILI) account for a significant portion of inappropriate antibiotic use. Patient expectations for antibiotics for ILI are likely to play a substantial role in ‘unnecessary’ antibiotic consumption. This study aimed to investigate trends in awareness of appropriate antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Three sequential online surveys of independent representative samples of adults in the United Kingdom investigated expectations for, and consumption of, antibiotics for ILI (May/June 2015 (n = 2064); Oct/Nov 2016 (n = 4000); Mar 2017 (n = 4000)). Respondents were asked whether they thought antibiotics were effective for ILI and about their antibiotic use. Proportions and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated for each question and interactions with respondent characteristics were tested using logistic regression. Over the three surveys, the proportion of respondents who believed antibiotics would “definitely/probably” help an ILI fell from 37% (95% CI 35–39%) to 28% (95% CI 26–29%). Those who would “definitely/probably” visit a doctor in this situation fell from 48% (95% CI 46–50%) to 36% (95% CI 34–37%), while those who would request antibiotics during a consultation fell from 39% (95% CI 37–41%) to 30% (95% CI 29–32%). The percentage of respondents who found the information we provided about AMR “new/surprising” fell from 34% (95% CI 32–36%) to 28% (95% CI 26–31%). Awareness improved more among black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) than white people, with little other evidence of differences in improvements between subgroups. Whilst a degree of selection bias is unavoidable in online survey samples, the results suggest that awareness of AMR and appropriate antibiotic use has recently significantly improved in the United Kingdom, according to a wide range of indicators.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: antibiotics; antimicrobial resistance; survey
Subjects: Q Science > QR Microbiology > QR355 Virology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
R Medicine > RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
SWORD Depositor:
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