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Open AccessArticle

Public Beliefs about Antibiotics, Infection and Resistance: A Qualitative Study

School of Pharmacy, University of Otago, Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
School of Psychology, Massey University Albany, Private Bag 102904, North Shore, North Shore City 0745, New Zealand
School of Social and Cultural Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, Box 600, Wellington 6140, New Zealand
Centre for Criminology and Sociology, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, UK
School of Psychology, University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Antibiotics 2013, 2(4), 465-476;
Received: 12 September 2013 / Revised: 17 October 2013 / Accepted: 31 October 2013 / Published: 5 November 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Paper 2013)
We aimed to gain an in-depth understanding of public views and ways of talking about antibiotics. Four focus groups were held with members of the public. In addition, 39 households were recruited and interviews, diaries of medicine taking, diaries of any contact with medication were used to explore understanding and use of medication. Discussions related to antibiotics were identified and analyzed. Participants in this study were worried about adverse effects of antibiotics, particularly for recurrent infections. Some were concerned that antibiotics upset the body’s “balance”, and many used strategies to try to prevent and treat infections without antibiotics. They rarely used military metaphors about infection (e.g., describing bacteria as invading armies) but instead spoke of clearing infections. They had little understanding of the concept of antibiotic resistance but they thought that over-using antibiotics was unwise because it would reduce their future effectiveness. Previous studies tend to focus on problems such as lack of knowledge, or belief in the curative powers of antibiotics for viral illness, and neglect the concerns that people have about antibiotics, and the fact that many people try to avoid them. We suggest that these concerns about antibiotics form a resource for educating patients, for health promotion and social marketing strategies. View Full-Text
Keywords: public knowledge; lay attitudes; qualitative; antibiotics public knowledge; lay attitudes; qualitative; antibiotics
MDPI and ACS Style

Norris, P.; Chamberlain, K.; Dew, K.; Gabe, J.; Hodgetts, D.; Madden, H. Public Beliefs about Antibiotics, Infection and Resistance: A Qualitative Study. Antibiotics 2013, 2, 465-476.

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