Original Research

Knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of antibiotic use and resistance among patients in South Africa: A cross-sectional study

Elise Farley, Dena van den Bergh, Renier Coetzee, Annemie Stewart, Tom Boyles
Southern African Journal of Infectious Diseases | Vol 34, No 1 | a118 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajid.v34i1.118 | © 2019 Elise Farley, Dena van den Bergh, Renier Coetzee, Annemie Stewart, Tom Boyles | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 May 2019 | Published: 28 August 2019

About the author(s)

Elise Farley, Public Health and Family Medicine Department, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Dena van den Bergh, Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine, Department of Medicine, Groote Schuur Hospital University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Renier Coetzee, School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
Annemie Stewart, UCT Clinical Research Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Tom Boyles, Department of Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Antibiotic resistance (ABR) is a global health crisis. We conducted a cross-sectional survey to describe South African patients’ (n = 782) ABR knowledge, attitudes and perceptions (KAP), differences in KAP between public (n = 379, 48%) and private (n = 403, 52%) practice respondents and associations between attitudes, perceptions and knowledge scores.

Methods: Knowledge scores (15 questions) were placed into low (0% – 53%) and high (> 54%) categories (below and above overall mean). Comparisons were conducted using chi-squared and t-tests.

Results: Of all respondents, 72% believed it was the human body that becomes resistant to antibiotics, 66% stated that antibiotics are good for treating viruses and 25% of patients believed that people should be given antibiotics on demand. Mean knowledge scores were lower in public sector respondents (public 45%, s.d. 15%; private 60%, s.d. 30%; p ≤ 0.001). Public practice patients with high knowledge scores were more likely to report both negative KAP (antibiotic prescriptions justify doctors’ visits, scientists will discover new antibiotics) and protective KAP (finishing a course of antibiotics, antibiotics do not treat all illnesses). Private practice patients with high knowledge scores were marginally less likely to report negative KAP (wanting antibiotics after long illnesses or when very sick) and more likely to report protective KAP (antibiotics have side effects and are a strong treatment).

Conclusion: Our study shows differences in KAP by practice type and that greater knowledge increases the likelihood of protective attitudes, perceptions and behaviours.


Keywords

Antimicrobial resistance; Antibiotic resistance; South Africa; Knowledge; Attitudes; Perceptions; Patient

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