Surveys of knowledge and awareness of antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance in general population: A systematic review

PLoS One. 2020 Jan 16;15(1):e0227973. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0227973. eCollection 2020.


Background: Currently, various tools exist to evaluate knowledge and awareness of antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and are applied by various organizations. Previous systematic reviews have focused mainly on study findings such as levels of knowledge and AMR awareness. However, the survey procedures and data instruments used ought to be scrutinized as well, since they are important contributors to credible results. This review aims to assess the study methods and procedures of existing population-based surveys and explore key components which determine the general population's levels of knowledge and awareness of antibiotic use and AMR.

Methods: We searched existing literature for population -based surveys which sought knowledge and awareness of antibiotic use or AMR in the general population. Databases searched included Ovid, MEDLINE and EMBASE, PsycINFO and Scopus, domestic journals and gray literature sources. Population-based cross-sectional studies published in English or Thai from January 2000 to December 2018 were included in the review. Quality assessment was conducted using the 'Appraisal Tool for Cross-Sectional Studies' (AXIS).

Results: All 22 studies included in the analysis had clear objectives focusing on assessing people's levels of knowledge, awareness, attitudes and behavior relating to antibiotic use and awareness of AMR. These studies had employed appropriate methodologies for population-based cross-sectional surveys relative to research questions. More than half of studies (14 out of 22) had scientifically soundly designed methodologies which captured the representativeness of the population; whereas the remaining studies had unclear sample size estimations, inappropriate sample frames and selection biases. Half of the studies had tested the validity and reliability of the questionnaire. The common questions used by these surveys were categorized into four themes: behavior related to antibiotic use, knowledge and awareness of antibiotic use, knowledge and awareness of AMR and others such as receiving information about antibiotic use and AMR or cross-cutting issues like self-medication.

Conclusion: This review identified four key features of good practices in antibiotic use and awareness surveys: a) clear survey objective; b) scientifically sound sampling techniques ensuring representativeness; c) strategies for recruitment of samples and survey administration methods; and d) credible measurement to prevent non-sampling biases. During questionnaire design, the health systems context in terms of access to health services and antibiotics should be taken into account. In conclusion, to maximize the use of surveys, the application of findings in surveys and associated factors related to antibiotic use and AMR should primarily generate public health interventions and target specific groups to make progress in solving AMR problems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Awareness
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Bacterial Infections / epidemiology
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Databases, Factual
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thailand / epidemiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents

Grants and funding

Funded by WHO Country-Cooperation Strategy on Antimicrobial Resistance 2017-2021, Thailand.