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The public's perspectives on antibiotic resistance and abuse among Chinese in Hong Kong


Correspondence to: T. P. Lam, 3/F, Ap Lei Chau Clinic, 161 Main Street, Ap Lei Chau, Hong Kong.




Antibiotic abuse and resistance impose a continuing threat to the world. The awareness of antibiotic resistance is said to be inversely associated with the prevalence of abuse. We examined the public's perspectives on antibiotic resistance in our study of the public's knowledge, attitude and practice with antibiotics.


The study adopted a combined qualitative and quantitative approach. Eight focus groups were conducted with 56 participants purposively selected from community centres and of different socio-economic strata. The qualitative data collected were used to construct a questionnaire for the telephone survey which surveyed 2471 adults from randomly selected residential numbers.


The focus-group participants were unclear about the nature and causes of antibiotic resistance; they also attributed antibiotic abuse to the doctors’ responsibility. Of the questionnaire respondents, 9.0% had not heard of the term, 7.8% had ever acquired non-prescribed antibiotics, 6.6% had ever kept the leftover and only 69.8% had always finished the full course of antibiotics. Furthermore, 77.3 % and 75.1%, respectively, agreed that the purchase of antibiotics without prescription and incomplete courses of antibiotics would lead to undesirable consequences. Of the respondents who had heard about antibiotic resistance, 38.7% agreed that they could help the prevention of resistance. They were more likely to complete the full course of antibiotics and less likely to keep the leftovers.


The public in general was not aware of the causes of, nor their role and capability in preventing, antibiotic resistance. Future campaigns and health education should empower everyone to restrain antibiotic resistance. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.