Household survey of residual antibiotics and beliefs about antibiotics

Abstract number: 10.1111/j.1198-743X.2004.902_o056.x

McNulty C.


To measure the extent to which entirely or partially unused prescribed antibiotics are retained in UK households and to elicit the reasons for such retention. To assess the public's awareness of antibiotic resistance and the content of publicity campaigns.


We added additional questions to the Omnibus survey, conducted monthly throughout Great Britain for 8 months each year by the Office of National Statistics. Our surveys were carried out in February/March and June/July 2003. Adults aged 16 years or over living in private households were approached by letter for face-to-face interview based on a stratified probability sample of the population. Interviewers had no control over who was interviewed - they had to interview at the preselected address and select one adult for interview according to a preset method. Unlike quota samples this method avoids the bias introduced when interviewers select only people who are easy to persuade to take part in the survey. The area in which each house was located was ranked by the ACORN geo-demographic classification.


A total of 7319 households were identified and 7120 (97%) took part in the survey. Of these 1316 (18%) had 1659 antibiotics in the house. Of the 7120 households, 365 (5%) held antibiotics that were partially unused from a previous prescription, 219 (3%) held antibiotics that were authorised by a doctor to be kept for a future infection, 727 (10%) held antibiotics that were currently in use and five were unsure. There was no relationship between geo-demographic area and residual antibiotics: 5%, 95% CI 4–6% least-deprived; 5%, CI 4–6% most-deprived. However, people in the least-deprived areas were less likely to believe that antibiotics work against most coughs or colds (27%, CI 25–28% vs. 35%, CI 34–37%), more likely to believe that bacteria on their skin or in their gut are good for their health (64%, CI 62–66% vs. 53%, 51–55%) and more likely to believe that antibiotic resistance is a threat to them or their family (84%, CI 83–85% vs. 80%, CI 78–81%).


Few households retain prescribed antibiotics for future use. Although a majority of people believe that antibiotic resistance is a threat to them or their family a substantial minority still believe that antibiotics work against most colds or coughs and there is a significant relationship between geo-demographic classification and educational need.


Session Details

Date: 01/08/2007
Time: 00:00-00:00
Session name: XXIst ISTH Congress
Location: Oxford, UK
Presentation type:
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