Not in my backyard: whose problem is antimicrobial resistance?

Antimicrobial resistance has been identified as a problem that affects all parts of society. Resources from health organisations and governments are being set aside to combat this problem. One of the most important factors in improving antimicrobial prescribing is education of frontline clinicians.

A systematic review of clinicians’ knowledge and beliefs about antibiotic resistance was recently conducted. 57 papers, including qualitative, quantitative and mixed methodologies, were included in the review published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

Encouragingly most clinicians were aware of the problems of antibiotic resistance. However, more clinicians believed it was a problem at a local, national or global level then in their own practice. A number of clinicians believed it was outside their control and that it was a ‘theoretical’ problem that was of lower priority then competing demands when prescribing antibiotics. There was also a belief identified that antibiotic resistance was a distant consequence when compared to the immediate consequence of inaction and visible patient distress.

The review concluded that clinicians viewed antibiotic resistance as a serious problem, but think it is caused by others. This allows us to improve and target education strategies. Antimicrobial resistance is everybody’s problem and will only be improved by health professionals working together with patients to reduce inappropriate antimicrobial use.

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