Changing public attitudes to antibiotic prescribing: can the internet help?

Gemma Madle, Patty Kostkova, Jane Mani-Saada, Julius Weinberg, Peter Williams


Introduction Antimicrobial resistance is a global problem with serious implications for modern medicine. Education of the public is essential for reducing patient pressure on GPs and subsequent inappropriate prescribing. Evaluation of educational interventions is necessary to assess their impact on public knowledge and attitudes. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of a health information website, part of the National electronic Library of Infection, on user knowledge and attitudes.
Method Questionnaires testing user knowledge and attitudes before and after using the website.
Results There were significant improvements in knowledge about the use of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance. Expectations that antibiotics should be prescribed were significantly reduced after using the website. Health professionals showed a significantly greater knowledge about antibiotics and were less likely to expect antibiotics to be prescribed for acute otitis media than non-health professionals before using the website. There was no significant difference between the knowledge of these groups after using the website, but non-health professionals continued to have higher expectations of antibiotics being prescribed than health professionals.
Conclusions Health information websites can play a significant role in influencing public knowledge and attitudes. Further research is needed to investigate how people learn from these interventions and to determine their long-term impact on public attitudes and subsequent behaviour.


antibiotic resistance; antimicrobial resistance; attitude; health information website; internet; knowledge; public opinion

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