Can Improving Knowledge of Antibiotic-Associated Adverse Drug Events Reduce Parent and Patient Demand for Antibiotics?

Health Serv Res Manag Epidemiol. 2015 Jan 26;2:2333392814568345. doi: 10.1177/2333392814568345. eCollection 2015 Jan-Dec.


Background: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 2 million people are infected and 23,000 die each year in the United States as a result of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. Antibiotic use is the most important factor contributing to antibiotic resistance and overuse is common, especially for upper respiratory tract infections. There is a perception among the public, as well as some health care providers, that antibiotics are harmless. We conducted formative research to explore patient and parent knowledge and attitudes relating to antibiotic use and adverse drug events (ADEs).

Methods: Six computer-assisted telephone focus groups were conducted in October and November 2010 with adult patients and mothers of young children. The focus groups were developed to engage participants in discussion about their knowledge and attitudes regarding antibiotic resistance and ADEs associated with antibiotic use.

Results: Nearly all mothers were familiar with the possibility of "side effects" with prescription medications, including antibiotics. However, very few mothers were familiar with severe antibiotic-associated ADEs and nearly all felt strongly that this information should be shared with parents at the time a prescription is recommended or written for their child. Adult participants did not believe that the potential for ADEs was a significant issue for adults and most reported never discussing the potential for adverse events with their provider.

Conclusions: Parents were receptive to appropriate antibiotic use messaging around ADEs. We learned that ADE messages did not resonate with adults in the same way they did with mothers of young children.

Keywords: adverse drug events; antibiotics; focus groups; upper respiratory infections.