NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Area Drug and Therapeutics Committee
Greater Glasgow and Clyde Medicines
Medicines Update

Public knowledge about antibiotics

A recent systematic review on antimicrobial resistance published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy looked at the public’s knowledge and beliefs about antibiotic resistance in 28 EU Member States.  


Results from the UK (2013) showed that only 52% patients of patients knew that antibiotics don’t treat viruses and 70% knew that they don’t treat cold and flu. The majority of patients believed they were at low risk from antibiotic resistance. They attributed antibiotic resistance to the actions of others and did not consider that they might contribute to its development. They also believed that strategies to minimise resistance should be aimed mainly at the clinician.


These results demonstrate a clear lack of understanding about antibiotic resistance. There are clear misconceptions with regards to who is responsible for the development. This could be addressed by appropriate education. As healthcare professionals we are ideally placed within both primary care and secondary care to educate patients on appropriate antibiotic use, address misconceptions regarding to antibiotic resistance and engage with public awareness campaigns and other tailored interventions (some examples of which are described here).  


Medicines Update previously reported some awareness raising work in North East Glasgow which had more positive results; only 13% thought an antibiotic was required to get better from a cough or cold or mild sore throat. 


Please find below some useful links for patients:



Published 03/08/2016