What consumers think, do and say about antibiotic use

Lum, Elaine, Page, Katie, Nissen, Lisa, Doust, Jenny, & Graves, Nicholas (2015) What consumers think, do and say about antibiotic use. In 9th Health Policy & Policy Research Conference (HSRAANZ 2015), 7 - 9 December 2015, Melbourne, Vic.

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The objectives of this study were to investigate (1) the attitudes and behaviours of Australian consumers in antibiotic use, and (2) their understanding of antibiotic resistance.


Semi-structured interviews were conducted with consumers in May/June 2015. Convenience sampling was used to recruit consumers between 18–54 years old. Thirty-two consumers were interviewed. Transcripts were analysed to identify themes.

Lessons Learned

Dominant themes for attitudes and behaviours regarding antibiotics were (a) avoidance of antibiotic use unless clinically warranted; (b) antibiotics were useful but “weakened the body”; and (c) use of complementary medicines as adjuncts to antibiotics or to strengthen the immune system. Key information needs were (a) unambiguous instructions from GPs when prescribed antibiotics, to avoid inappropriate medicine-taking behaviour; (b) rationale for antibiotic selection; and (c) treatment duration.

Antibiotic resistance was conceptualised in three ways: as a property of the body (body becomes resistant to antibiotics); the medication (antibiotic no longer effective); and the bacteria (bacteria is resistant). Antibiotic resistance was perceived as an issue that would only affect the wider community in the future, although most recognised that it is a current challenge for hospitals. Personal good health and/or avoidance of antibiotics were perceived as insurance against being adversely affected by antibiotic resistance.


A structured survey (discrete choice experiment) will be developed from these findings to investigate how consumers trade-off on factors influencing antibiotic use. Public health campaigns promoting conservation of antibiotics can benefit from these findings.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 93465
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Antibiotics, Consumer, Australia, Primary healthcare
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Primary Health Care (111717)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Clinical Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Deposited On: 08 Mar 2016 05:40
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2016 01:02

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