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Published on 3 September 2014

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Survey highlights need for education on antibiotic use

Poor knowledge about antibiotics is not only a problem among uneducated sectors of society, according to the results of a survey of 731 students at Xi’an Jiaotong University, Shaanxi Province, China, presented at the World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Poor knowledge about antibiotics is not only a problem among uneducated sectors of society, according to the results of a survey of 731 students at Xi’an Jiaotong University, Shaanxi Province, China, presented at the World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Worryingly high proportions of inappropriate practices and self-medication were revealed. The survey found that 40.2% of students had self-medicated with antibiotics in the past six months, a proportion similar to that found among university students in Pakistan in 2008 (35.2%) (1), indicating that the misuse of antibiotics in undergraduates continues to be a problem.

More alarmingly, perhaps, is that most of the Chinese students surveyed  (59.2%) had purchased their antibiotics without prescriptions. Yu Fang, associate professor at the Xi’an Jiaotong University School of Pharmacy, said that is has been almost 10 years since the China Food and Drug Administration announced that the sale of antibiotics without a prescription would be prohibited; yet people are still able to buy many types of antibiotics without prescription. “Stricter and more practical regulations enforcing supervision of the sale of antibiotics in retail pharmacies is needed,” Dr Fang said.

The research also found that over half of the respondents (56.5%) were storing antibiotics for immediate access and almost a third (30.6%) had used antibiotics for common colds. Moreover, 44% had changed antibiotic dosage and 36.5% had switched to a different antibiotic.

The median score for the students’ knowledge was 4 out of a maximum possible score of 10, with over a quarter (28.0%) incorrectly believing that antibiotics are the same as anti-inflammatory drugs.

Our findings highlight the urgent need for focused educational intervention, given that antibiotic resistance is one of the world’s most pressing public health problems,” Dr Fang said.

Reference
1.       Zafar et al. Self-medication amongst university students of Karachi: prevalence, knowledge and attitudes. J Pak Med Assoc. 2008;58:214-7.



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