How much information about antibiotics do people recall after consulting in primary care?

Fam Pract. 2016 Aug;33(4):395-400. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmw022. Epub 2016 Apr 12.


Background: Sharing information with patients within a consultation about their infection and value of antibiotics can help reduce antibiotic prescriptions for respiratory tract infections. However, we do not know how often information is given about antibiotics or infections, and if this is related to knowledge and attitudes.

Objectives: To determine the public's reported use of antibiotics, receipt of information from health professionals about antibiotics and resistance, trust in health professionals and knowledge levels about antibiotics and resistance.

Methods: Face-to-face computer-assisted survey with 1625 adults over 15 years in randomly selected households using multistage sampling. Rim weighting was used to correct for any selection biases.

Results: About 88% trusted their GP to determine the need for antibiotics. Of those who took antibiotics in the past year, 62% were for a throat infection, 60% for sinus infection and 42% for a cough. Although 67% who had been prescribed an antibiotic recalled being given advice about their infection or antibiotics, only 8% recalled information about antibiotic resistance. Those in lower social grades were less likely to recall advice. About 44% correctly indicated that antibiotics effectively treat bacterial rather than viral infections. Only 45% agreed that 'healthy people can carry antibiotic resistant bacteria'.

Conclusion: GPs and health carers are trusted decision-makers, but could share more information with patients about the need or not for antibiotics, self-care and antibiotic resistance, especially with younger patients and those of lower social grade. Better ways are needed for effective sharing of information about antibiotic resistance.

Keywords: Family practice; information; knowledge; leaflets; questionnaire..

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial*
  • England
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Infections / classification
  • Infections / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Middle Aged
  • Primary Health Care
  • Self Care
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents