Antibiotics are ‘like gold’ for some people, leading to inappropriate use

Personal beliefs and health care system barriers contribute to patients’ inappropriate use of antibiotics, researchers report presenting results at the IDWeek 2023 Annual Meeting.

Over-the-counter antibiotic use includes accessing medication left over from previously prescribed treatment, obtained from social media, and purchased without a prescription in other countries or illegally in stores. and markets in the United States.

Lindsey A. Laytner, PhD, MPH, of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, pointed out in her presentation that the overuse and misuse of antibiotics contributes to the growing threat of antibiotic resistance. birth and it is difficult to say how common it is.

“This is an understudied area,” Laytner said. “We don’t collect these data on a regular basis, so we really don’t know what the true prevalence is. Contributing factors into this unsafe practice in the United States has not yet been discovered.”

To investigate, researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 86 adults (mean age 49 years; 62% women) to determine patients’ motivations for using antibiotics without prescription. single. They all answered “yes” when asked in a previous survey whether they used antibiotics without contacting a doctor, nurse, dentist or clinic.

Laytner said several prominent themes emerged.

Nearly all interviewees reported using over-the-counter antibiotics for symptoms that mostly did not require antibiotics. These include symptoms of COVID-19, flu, and the common cold, as well as for pain management, allergies, and even wounds.

Symptomatic treatment is ineffective

Many people feel they “know their bodies, know what diseases they have, and know how to treat themselves” without needing a health care provider, Laytner says.

They also feel that over-the-counter medications “don’t always work and antibiotics are like this gold or panacea and because it’s hard to get a prescription they should be stocked,” she explains. prefer.

A variety of health care system barriers also contribute to inappropriate antibiotic use, including long wait times to make an appointment and to see a doctor when an appointment is made; high medical examination and prescription costs; and transportation problems.

Many patients choose to use over-the-counter antibiotics because of “convenience,” Laytner added.

She explained that these findings could help inform community-level education efforts about inappropriate antibiotic use and help shape policies that promote antibiotic stewardship.

Access to care and education services

Comments on research for Medscape Infectious DiseasesEmily Sydnor Spivak, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, said she was “not entirely surprised by the results, but found it interesting that the topic of autonomy was included.” , or ‘I know my body,’ which seems to lead patients to take antibiotics to relieve symptoms.”

“There is a need to educate patients about the role of antibiotics, how they work, and how they don’t actually help relieve symptoms,” said Spivak, who is also medical director of the antimicrobial stewardship program at as well as its disadvantages and side effects”. University of Utah Health and VA Salt Lake City Health Care System.

“Given that lack of access to healthcare is the reason some patients use over-the-counter antibiotics, we need to think about reaching into the healthcare system and changing the process as well as policy changes to allow for better access. Without better access or interaction with the health care system, we may not be educating patients,” Spivak said.

The study had no commercial sponsorship. Laytner and Spivak reported no relevant financial disclosures.

IDWeek 2023 Annual Meeting: Executive Summary 1016. Presented October 12, 2023.

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