“Study finds patients, clinicians downplay antibiotic side effects”

“A new study has found that the view that there is potential benefit and very little risk in taking antibiotics is widespread among the public, patients, and clinicians.

The findings, published in the journal Medical Decision Making, are based on three surveys in which 225 emergency department patients and 149 healthcare providers at two urban US academic hospitals, along with 519 online subjects, were presented with a scenario of a patient with symptoms of a common upper respiratory infection—an indication that generally doesn’t warrant antibiotics—and then asked to answer questions about antibiotics, including questions about prior use and expectations for antibiotics.

The results showed that while clinicians demonstrated greater knowledge about antibiotics and potential side effects, the predominant strategy (or “gist”) for the decision about antibiotic use among both patients and clinicians was “why not take a risk.” This strategy compares the status quo of being sick to the potential of benefitting from antibiotics, while assuming that there is negligible risk.

In addition, the results showed that among the online sample, endorsement of the “why not take a risk” gist was positively associated with expectations for antibiotics and prior use of antibiotics. Given that patient expectation has been shown to play a role in outpatient antibiotic prescribing, this finding suggests that agreement with the viewpoint may predict prescribing rates.”

Source: CIDRAP


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