Clinical research­
A survey of patient behaviours and beliefs regarding antibiotic self-medication for respiratory tract infections in Poland
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Submission date: 2011-05-12
Final revision date: 2011-12-21
Acceptance date: 2012-01-24
Online publication date: 2012-06-28
Publication date: 2013-10-31
Arch Med Sci 2013;9(5):854–857
Introduction: Self-medication can contribute to the inappropriate use of antibiotics in respiratory tract infections (RTI). This phenomenon has not been well described, particularly in Poland. The aim of our study was to describe the prevalence of antibiotic self-medication for RTI, to explore factors influencing antibiotic use without pre­scription, and to determine the available sources of such antibiotics.
Material and methods: A self-administered questionnaire completed by patients presenting to family medicine clinics at Lodz and Wroclaw from 1st March to 15th May 2010.
Results: A total of 891 patients in ten clinics completed the survey (response rate, 89.1%). Overall, 41.4% (n = 369) of patients reported self-medication with an antibiotic for RTI. The most common reason for antibiotic self-medication was a belief that antibiotics treat the majority of infections, including influenza and influenza-like illnesses (43.9%; n = 162). The predominant sources of antibiotics for self-medication were antibiotics from previous prescriptions stored by the patient at home (73.7%, n = 272), those received from a pharmacy without prescription (13.5%; n = 50), or from family members and friends (12.7%; n = 47).
Conclusions: Antibiotic self-medication for RTI was common in this population. This may be due to the belief that the antibiotics treat the majority of infections. A recommendation to either ask patients to return unused antibiotics to the physician’s office or to dispense antibiotics in the exact amount which is necessary for an individual course, as well as the targeted education of pharmacy personnel and the general population, appear to be justified.