The body gets used to them: patients' interpretations of antibiotic resistance and the implications for containment strategies

Abstract number: R2522

Brookes-Howell L., Elwyn G., Hood K., Wood F., Cooper L., Goossens H., Ieven M., Butler C.

Background: Antibiotic resistance is a term that is frequently used by clinicians in their discussions with patients. However, patients and clinicians may not share the same assumptions about the meaning of this term.

Objective: We aimed to explore patients' interpretations of the term 'antibiotic resistance' and to consider the implications for strategies to reduce the overuse of antibiotics.

Design: Qualitative interview study.

Participants: 121 adult patients from nine European cities who had recently consulted a primary care clinician with symptoms of Lower Respiratory Tract Infection (LRTI).

Approach: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants following their consultation. Data were subject to Framework Analysis.

Results: The dominant theme in all networks was that antibiotic resistance arose from having or developing a 'resistant body', where the barrier to antibiotic effectiveness was individual loss of responsiveness. Less commonly, patients correctly conceptualised antibiotic resistance as a property of bacteria. Nevertheless, the over-use of antibiotics was a strong central concept in almost all patients' explanations, whether they viewed resistance as located in either the body or in bacteria.

Conclusions: Most patients were aware of the link between antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance. The identification of the misinterpretation of antibiotic resistance as being located in the body could lead to clinician-patient discussions and public health interventions which are much clearer about the location and mechanism of antibiotic resistance, explaining the transferability and societal relevance rather than focusing on individualised risk, thereby emphasising the public health argument for the prudent use of antibiotics.

Session Details

Date: 07/05/2011
Time: 00:00-00:00
Session name: Abstracts of 21st ECCMID / 27th ICC
Location: Milan, Italy, 7 - 10 May 2011
Presentation type:
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