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Revisiting patient expectations and experiences of antibiotics in an era of antimicrobial resistance. Qualitative study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Expectations
Accepted/In press24 Jun 2020

King's Authors


Objective: To investigate contemporary patient expectations and experiences of antibiotic prescribing in England.
Background: Primary care providers’ compliance with patient influences has been identified as a motivation for antibiotic prescribing behaviour. Since 2013, there have been concerted efforts to publicise and address the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance. A fresh qualitative insight into patient expectations and experiences is needed.
Design: Qualitative study using semi-structured interviews.
Setting and participants: Two English regions, one an urban metropolitan area and the other a town in rural England. Patients who recently consulted for infections were recruited. The information power approach was used to determine the number of participants, yielding a sample of 31 participants.
Main measures: Thematic analysis was carried out to analyse the interview data.
Results: Five themes were identified: beliefs, expectations, experiences of taking antibiotic, experience of antimicrobial resistance and side-effects, and experiences of consultations. The accounts reflected improved public knowledge: antibiotics were perceived to be much-needed medicines that should be prescribed when appropriate. The data showed that patients formed expectations of expectations, trying to read the prescribers’ intentions and reflect on the dependency between what prescribers and patients wanted. Patient experiences featured as nuanced and detailed with knowledge of AMR and side effects of antibiotics in the context of positive consultation experiences.
Conclusions: The study highlighted complex interplays between adherence to antibiotics and consuming antibiotics in reflexive, informed ways. Ensuring that present and future patients are informed about potential benefits and harms of antibiotic use will contribute to future antimicrobial stewardship.

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