Background: The decision to prescribe antibiotics and the selection of an appropriate antibiotic are important in the treatment of infectious diseases. As any human decision, it can be influenced by individual attitudes and perceptions.
Objectives: To assess the attitudes and perceptions of healthcare providers regarding antibiotic prescribing and the use of laboratory results in infection diagnosis.
Methods: A cross sectional survey in five selected Health Service Areas (HSAs) in the Southern Africa country of Lesotho. The questionnaires were self-administered to 67 healthcare providers in public health institutions within the selected HSAs. Data were analyzed using Fisher's exact test or the McNemar Test for dependent proportions.
Results: 51 surveys were returned (39 medical doctors, 12 nurses). Respondents typically practiced in urban settings, worked with both inpatients and outpatients, had over 10 years experience, and attended to at least 26 patients per day. We identify several inappropriate practices related to the use of on-site microbiology laboratories. For example, only 17% always send a sample for microscopic identification prior to prescribing antibiotics and only 32% always send a sample for culture sensitivity tests. Delays in obtaining laboratory results and high patient workloads were cited as reasons for under-utilization of laboratory facilities. Nearly all respondents recognize the need for guidelines and further training in antibiotic prescribing.
Conclusion: Healthcare providers demonstrated attitudes and perceptions in antibiotic prescribing or use of laboratory derived information in infection diagnosis that could have negative impacts on antibiotic prescribing.
Keywords: Healthcare providers; Lesotho; antibiotic prescribing; laboratory derived information.