Background: Clinicians cite parental misconceptions and requests for antibiotics as reasons for inappropriate prescribing.
Aims: To identify misconceptions regarding antibiotics and predictors of parental demand for antibiotics and to determine if parental knowledge and attitudes are associated with use.
Methods: Survey of parents in 16 Massachusetts communities. Domains included antibiotic-related knowledge, attitudes about antibiotics, antibiotic use during a 12-month period, demographics, and access to health information. Bivariate and multivariate analyses evaluated predictors of knowledge and proclivity to demand antibiotics. A multivariate model evaluated the associations of knowledge, demand, and demographic factors with parent-reported antibiotic use.
Results: A total of 1106 surveys were returned (response rates: 54% and 32% for commercially-insured and Medicaid-insured families). Misconceptions were common regarding bronchitis (92%) and green nasal discharge (78%). Two hundred sixty-five (24%) gave responses suggesting a proclivity to demand antibiotics. Antibiotic knowledge was associated with increased parental age and education, having more than 1 child, white race, and receipt of media information on resistance. Factors associated with a proclivity to demand antibiotics included decreased knowledge, pressure from day-care settings, lack of alternatives offered by clinicians, and lack of access to media information. Among all respondents, reported antibiotic use was associated with younger child age and day-care attendance. Among Medicaid-insured children only, less antibiotic knowledge and tendency to demand antibiotics were associated with higher rates of antibiotic use.
Conclusions: Misconceptions regarding antibiotic use are widespread and potentially modifiable by clinicians and media sources. Particular attention should be paid to Medicaid-insured patients in whom such misconceptions may contribute to inappropriate prescribing.