Background: Antibiotic resistance is caused partly by excessive antibiotic prescribing, yet little is known about prescribers' views on this problem.
Methods: We surveyed 490 internal medicine physicians at 4 Chicago-area hospitals to assess their attitudes about the importance of antibiotic resistance, knowledge of its prevalence, self-reported experience with antibiotic resistance, beliefs about its causes, and attitudes about interventions designed to address the problem.
Results: The response rate was 87% (424 of 490 physicians). Antibiotic resistance was perceived as a very important national problem by 87% of the respondents, but only 55% rated the problem as very important at their own hospitals. Nearly all physicians (97%) believed that widespread and inappropriate antibiotic use were important causes of resistance. Yet, only 60% favored restricting use of broad-spectrum antibiotics, although this percentage varied by hospital and physician group.
Conclusions: Although most physicians view antibiotic resistance as a serious national problem, perceptions about its local importance, its causes, and possible solutions vary more widely. Disparities in physician knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes may compromise efforts to improve antibiotic prescribing and infection control practices.