An evaluation of knowledge, attitude and behaviour amongst patients regarding antibiotic use and misuse in South Africa.
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Background: Antibiotic misuse is a global problem that presents a threat to public health. Antibiotic misuse and overuse are responsible for the increase and spread of antibiotic resistance. The community plays a fundamental role in the appropriate antibiotic use and the increase and spread of antibiotic resistance. Hence, public knowledge and attitude regarding antibiotic use are imperative in treatment success. Method: A quantitative approach was performed using a descriptive cross-sectional design. The data were collected by a self-administered questionnaire completed by patients accessing the pharmacy. The data was analysed using descriptive statistics, namely Microsoft Excel and the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). Results: From a total of 135 respondents, the majority (n = 108; 80%) of the respondents were aware that different antibiotics were needed to treat different diseases. However, over two-thirds (n = 98; 73%) of the respondents agreed that antibiotics are effective against viruses. More than half of the respondents (n = 82; 61%) considered that antibiotic resistance is a global problem. The vast majority of the sample population (n = 104; 77%) agreed that the pharmacists often tell them how to use their antibiotics during the dispensing process. However, a high number of respondents (n = 97; 72%) agreed that doctors take time to inform them during the consultation on using the antibiotics that s/he prescribed, but this number is lower (n = 104; 77%) when compared to the pharmacists. Conclusion: The results demonstrate that the community frequently uses antibiotics. These findings indicate misunderstanding related to the antibiotics' role and their cause of the disease (bacterial or viral). The multifaceted educational interventions and patient-healthcare provider communication tools should focus on the specific socio-demographic factors and misconceptions of antibiotics to promote rational antibiotic use. Community-based interventions will help prevent the development of antibiotic resistance, cross-resistance and anticipated future events of treatment failure.