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Changing Perspectives on Antibiotic Use

Related Categories: PHF Online Store

Topic: Workforce Development

Date: 7/25/2018

​Each year in the United States, at least two million people become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria and at least 23,000 die as a result.1 Antibiotics can save lives, but any time antibiotics are used, they can cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance. At least 80 million antibiotic prescriptions each year are unnecessary, which makes improving antibiotic prescribing and use a national priority. The Public Health Foundation (PHF) is partnering with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help educate providers and their patients about this problem by distributing prescription pads and patient brochures. You can order these materials directly from PHF's Learning Resource Center. This is an important element of CDC's Be Antibiotics Aware campaign.

In a new study to determine whether providers share patients' rationales for antibiotic use, Dr. David Broniatowski, an assistant professor in the George Washington University's department of engineering management and systems engineering, finds many providers know antibiotics don't work against viral illnesses like cold or flu but prescribe anyway. The study surveyed 149 clinicians and 225 patients from two large academic hospitals, and 519 online subjects.2 Providers believe antibiotics might help patients feel better and succumb to patient pressure to prescribe. According to Dr. Broniatowski, "People may be acting strategically - trying to hedge their bets - when they expect or prescribe antibiotics. Unfortunately, this individually-rational action leads to negative consequences for society."


Providers and patients need a better understanding of this issue, and effective communication strategies for both patients and providers are key in helping to change perspectives on antibiotic use and prescribing. Visit the CDC’s Be Antibiotics Aware website for more information about antibiotic prescribing and use and make decisions with data sources such as CDC's Antibiotic Resistance Patient Safety Atlas, with interactive data about healthcare-associated infections, customizable maps and tables to show resistance patterns, and data on three key types of infections and 31 bug-drug profiles.


Additional antibiotic stewardship resources from PHF include:


1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013.

2 George Washington University. "'Why not take a risk' attitude widespread among patients and providers: Belief could lead to unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics and spread of superbugs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 May 2018.


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Changing Perspectives on Antibiotic Use