Original Research

Patients’ knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding antibiotic use at a regional hospital in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa 2017

K. Ramchurren, Y. Balakrishna, S. Mahomed
Southern African Journal of Infectious Diseases | Vol 33, No 5 | a146 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajid.v33i5.146 | © 2019 Kershal Ramchurren, Saajida Mahomed, Yusentha Balakrishna | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 May 2019 | Published: 10 September 2018

About the author(s)

K. Ramchurren, School of Nursing and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Y. Balakrishna, Biostatistics Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Durban, South Africa
S. Mahomed, School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

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Background: Antibiotic resistance is a major public-health problem globally and inappropriate antibiotic use is being increasingly recognised as the main force driving this resistance. Communities can contribute to the reduction of antibiotic resistance by using antibiotics appropriately and as prescribed. The purpose of this study was to assess the knowledge, attitudes and practices of patients regarding antibiotic use at a regional hospital in South Africa.
Method: An observational analytic, cross-sectional study was conducted at Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital between May and June 2017. A validated questionnaire consisting of closed-ended questions was administered to outpatients. Patients’ responses were scored and categorised as poor or good for knowledge, attitude and practice.
Results: A total of 386 patients were interviewed. Only 205 (53%) patients had a good level of knowledge. Although 270 (70%) patients knew that antibiotics are indicated for the treatment of bacterial infections, 211 (55%) patients incorrectly thought that antibiotics are also used to treat viral infections. Only 168 (44%) patients were aware of the resistance associated with overusing antibiotics. With regard to patients’ attitudes, 164 (42%) patients believed that taking antibiotics for the common cold helped them to recover faster and 178 (46%) patients expected the doctor to prescribe more than one antibiotic for a severe cold. Overall, 157 patients (40%) reported having shared antibiotics with friends or family. Patients with good knowledge were six times more likely to have good antibiotic practices (OR 5.8; 95% CI 0.3–10.6; p < 0.001).
Conclusion: A well-planned education programme for the public should be undertaken to improve the knowledge and uses of antibiotics among patients.


attitude; knowledge; practice; resistance


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