Online health information and public knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours regarding antibiotics in the UK: Multiple regression analysis of Wellcome Monitor and Eurobarometer Data

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Abstract

Background

Antimicrobial resistance is a global public health problem with some socially patterned drivers. The objective of the study was to investigate associations between use of and trust in the Internet as a source of health-related information and the public’s knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours regarding antibiotics.

Methods

Two representative cross-sectional surveys (the 2015 Wellcome Monitor (n = 1524) and UK segment (n = 1330) of the 2016 Eurobarometer 85.1) covering knowledge about antibiotics and antibiotic consumption were analysed. Knowledge, attitude, and behaviour variables were analysed using regression in relation to demographic characteristics and use and trust in the Internet as a source of information.

Results

The key findings of the analysis are that both use of the Internet as a source of medical research information (variable from the Wellcome Monitor) and trust in the Internet as a source of information about antibiotics (variable from the Eurobarometer) were independently and positively associated with knowledge, attitude, and behaviour regarding antibiotics. Additionally, knowledge about antibiotics was positively associated with behaviour with antibiotics (Wellcome Monitor) and attitude towards finishing antibiotic prescriptions (Eurobarometer). Higher levels of education were associated with better knowledge about antibiotics in both datasets. Older age was positively associated with behaviour and attitude regarding antibiotic consumption.

Conclusions

The Internet is a resource for disseminating quality health information that has the potential to improve stewardship of antibiotics in the community. This study suggests that members of the UK public that use the Internet as a source of health-related information are more likely to be better informed about, and be more responsible with, antibiotics. This mode of information dissemination should be capitalised on to improve antimicrobial stewardship, and further research should examine what the most effective online information sources are in the UK and to what extent their association with behaviour is causal.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0204878
Number of pages15
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume13
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2018

Keywords

  • Antibiotics
  • Antimicrobial Resistance
  • Internet Use

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