Antibiotic use and upper respiratory infections: a survey of knowledge, attitudes, and experience in Wisconsin and Minnesota

Prev Med. 2002 Mar;34(3):346-52. doi: 10.1006/pmed.2001.0992.


Background: Public attitudes and expectations contribute to inappropriate antibiotic prescribing and antibiotic resistance. This study assessed knowledge, attitudes, and experiences regarding antibiotic use for respiratory infection or illness.

Methods: Random-digit-dialing telephone surveys of adults and parents of children <5 years old were conducted in Wisconsin and Minnesota during 1999.

Results: The survey was completed by 405 adults and 275 parents of children <5 years old. The median age was 32 years for parents and 50 years for adults. Seven percent of parents and 17% of adults believed that antibiotics are never or almost never necessary for bronchitis. More than 70% in each group believed that antibiotics are needed for green or yellow nasal drainage, and nearly half of respondents believed that they knew whether an antibiotic was needed before seeing a physician. Exposure to multiple information sources on antibiotic resistance in the past 6 months was independently associated with a knowledge score greater than or equal to the median for nine questions.

Conclusions: The general public has misconceptions regarding indications for antibiotic use, and this may contribute to inappropriate prescribing. Providing multiple and varied antibiotic-related informational messages may increase knowledge of appropriate antibiotic prescribing and decrease patient demand for antibiotics.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial*
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minnesota / epidemiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Population Surveillance
  • Probability
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Wisconsin / epidemiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents