Authors: Kistler CE, Beeber A, Becker-Dreps S, Ward K, Meade M, Ross B, Sloane PD
BMC Nurs. 2017;16:12
BACKGROUND: Antibiotic overuse causes antibiotic resistance, one of the most important threats to human health. Older adults, particularly those in nursing homes, often receive antibiotics when they are not indicated.
METHODS: To understand knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of nursing home (NH) nurses and community-dwelling older adults towards antibiotic use, especially in clinical situations consistent with antibiotic overuse, we conducted a mixed-method survey in two NHs and one Family Medicine clinic in North Carolina, among English-speaking nurses and community-dwelling, cognitively intact adults aged 65Â years or older. Based on the Knowledge-Attitude-Practice model, the survey assessed knowledge, attitudes, and behavior towards antibiotic use, including three vignettes designed to elicit possible antibiotic overuse: asymptomatic bacteriuria (ASB), a viral upper respiratory illness (URI), and a wound from a fall.
RESULTS: Of 31 NH nurses and 66 community-dwelling older adults, 70% reported knowledge of the dangers of taking antibiotics. Nurses more often reported evidence-based attitudes towards antibiotics than older adults, except 39% agreed with the statement "by the time I am sick enough to go to the doctor with a cold, I expect an antibiotic", while only 28% of older adults agreed with it. A majority of nurses did not see the need for antibiotics in any of the three vignettes: 77% for the ASB vignette, 87% for the URI vignette, and 97% for the wound vignette. Among older adults, 50% did not perceive a need for antibiotics in the ASB vignette, 58% in the URI vignette, and 74% in the wound vignette.
CONCLUSIONS: While a substantial minority had no knowledge of the dangers of antibiotic use, non-evidence-based attitudes towards antibiotics, and behaviors indicating inappropriate management of suspected infections, most NH nurses and community-dwelling older adults know the harms of antibiotic use and demonstrate evidence-based attitudes and behaviors. However, more work is needed to improve the knowledge, attitudes and behaviors that may contribute to antibiotic overuse.