Introduction: This study aims to study whether knowledge that upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) resolves on its own is associated with more appropriate antibiotic cognition and treatment-seeking behaviour in adult patients seeking consultation for upper respiratory tract symptoms in all nine polyclinics of the National Healthcare Group in Singapore.
Methods: A prospective study of 595 adult patients who attended for URTI symptoms of less than seven days duration was performed. We collected data using an interviewer-administered structured questionnaire eliciting the participant's personal and demographical data, his knowledge about URTI, past experience with URTI and treatment-seeking behaviour for this current episode of URTI. These variables were then regressed against the variable "URTI resolves on its own", adjusting for "antibiotics relieve URTI faster", "antibiotic used unnecessarily for URTI", "recovery faster with antibiotics" for antibiotic cognition; and "number of days with URTI", "first line of action: self-medicate", "reason for attendance: felt unwell", "reason for attendance: get well faster" and "used prescribed medication before current visit" for health-seeking behaviour.
Results: More than one-third of patients believed that URTI resolved on its own. Subjects who believed that URTI resolved on its own were not significantly different in terms of gender, ethnic group, educational status, age, knowledge of germs as causal, and number of days sick before attendance. However, such patients were 1.68 times (confidence interval [CI] 1.17, 2.41) more likely to agree that, nowadays, antibiotics are used unnecessarily for "flu", and 2.07 times (CI 1.32, 3.24) more likely to self-medicate. They were 0.51 (CI 0.35, 0.76) times more likely to be dependant on prescribed medication.
Conclusion: Knowledge that URTI resolves on its own is associated with more appropriate antibiotic cognition and health-seeking behaviour.