Antibiotic knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of Albanian health care professionals and patients: a qualitative interview study

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Susanne Kaae, Admir Malaj, Iris Hoxha


Background

The inappropriate use of antimicrobials is a problem worldwide. To target future interventions, a thorough understanding of the reasons behind this current behaviour is needed. Within the EU, the culture of antimicrobial use has been intensely studied, but this is not the case in non-EU southeastern European countries, despite the frequent use of (broad-spectrum) antibiotics (ABs) in this region. The aim of this study was to explore AB knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of health care professionals (HCPs) and patients in one southeastern European country, Albania.


Methods

In total, 16 semi-structured interviews were carried out with four groups of interviewees: physicians, community pharmacists, and patients with and without AB prescriptions. Interviews were used to investigate participants’ recent practices with four specific antibiotics for upper respiratory tract infections, along with their typical behaviours, knowledge and attitudes towards the use of antimicrobials. A directed content analysis was applied.


Results

The patients showed little awareness of the differences between viruses and bacteria; however, they often self-diagnosed, which led them to request ABs from pharmacies without a prescription. Pharmacists felt pressured to give in to patients’ demands. All of the participants (including HCP) showed suboptimal beliefs about illness severity as they all believed that ‘flu complications’, i.e. flu/cold symptoms that persisted after 2–3 days, should be treated with ABs. Physicians usually had no rapid tests to guide them in their practice; however, they were not concerned about this fact. HCPs acknowledged AMR, but only a few of them seemed to consider its risk in their daily practice.


Conclusions

Patients had high levels of trust in and desire for ABs, and HCPs did not often negotiate with patients’ demands. Suggested initiatives to improve the prudent use of ABs in Albania include higher reimbursement for prescribed antibiotics (to reduce illegal sales), academic detailing as well as implementing public awareness campaigns.
Original languageEnglish
Article number13
JournalJournal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice
Volume10
Issue number13
Number of pages8
ISSN2052-3211
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017

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