Background: Overuse of antibiotics for children's upper respiratory infections is widespread and contributes to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Objective: To assess changes in knowledge and awareness regarding antibiotic resistance and appropriate antibiotic use after community-wide educational interventions to reduce inappropriate antibiotic use.
Design: Baseline survey conducted during June through July 1997 and postintervention survey of baseline participants during June through August 1998.
Setting: Communities in northern Wisconsin.
Participants: Parents of 729 randomly selected children <4 years of age were called until 215 in each of the intervention and control areas were reached. Of the 430 baseline participants, 365 (85%) participated in the postintervention survey.
Intervention: Parent-oriented activities included distribution of materials and presentations. Physician-oriented activities included formal presentations and small group meetings.
Outcome measure: Change in awareness about antibiotic resistance and knowledge about antibiotic indications.
Results: A higher proportion of parents in the intervention area (53%) were exposed to 2 or more local educational messages, compared with the control area (23%). From the baseline to the postintervention survey, the percentage of parents with a high degree of antibiotic resistance awareness increased more in the intervention area (58% to 73%) than in the control area (60% to 65%). In the intervention area, there was also a larger increase in knowledge regarding appropriate indications for antibiotic use, compared with the control area. The proportion of parents who expected an antibiotic for their child and did not receive one declined in the intervention area (14% to 9%), while it increased in the control area (7% to 10%). In addition, the percentage of parents in the intervention area who brought their child to another physician because they did not receive an antibiotic decreased (5% to 2%), while it increased in the control area (2% to 4%).
Conclusion: Parental knowledge and awareness about antibiotic indications and antibiotic resistance can be changed with educational interventions directed at parents and clinicians.