General population's knowledge and attitudes about antibiotics: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2015 Jan;24(1):2-10. doi: 10.1002/pds.3716. Epub 2014 Sep 24.


Purpose: Nowadays, the development of antibiotic resistance represents one of the most important issues of the global public health. The incorrect use of antimicrobial drugs is recognized as one of the leading causes of antibiotic resistance. Therefore, a better understanding of the existing pieces of evidence pertaining knowledge and attitudes about antibiotic and antibiotic resistance in the general population worldwide is advisable.

Methods: A systematic review and proportion meta-analyses were performed through PubMed and Scopus scientific databases. Cross-sectional studies published from January 2000 to November 2013 and investigating knowledge about antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance were included.

Results: Overall, 26 studies have been selected for the systematic review, and 24 of these were included in the meta-analyses. A lack of knowledge about antibiotics was detected. In particular, 33.7% (95%CI 25.2-42.8) of the sample did not know that antibiotics can treat bacterial infections, and 53.9% (95%CI 41.6-66.0) of them did not know that antibiotics are not useful against viruses. Besides, although 59.4% (95%CI 45.7-72.4) of the sample was aware of antibiotic resistance, 26.9% (95%CI 16.6-38.7) of them did not know that misuse of antibiotics can lead to this problem. Finally, 47.1% (95%CI 36.1-58.2) of the subjects stop taking antibiotics when they start feeling better.

Conclusions: It would be necessary to strengthen educational initiatives in the community and to push physicians to correctly inform patients in order to make them aware of the importance of a correct behavior concerning antibiotic consumption.

Keywords: antibiotics; attitude; knowledge; meta-analysis; pharmacoepidemiology; resistance.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Awareness*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Population Surveillance*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents