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Caregivers' practices, knowledge and beliefs of antibiotics in paediatric upper respiratory tract infections in Trinidad and Tobago: a cross-sectional study



Caregivers' practices, knowledge and beliefs of antibiotics in paediatric upper respiratory tract infections in Trinidad and Tobago: a cross-sectional study



Bmc Family Practice 5: 28



Antibiotic overuse and misuse for upper respiratory tract infections in children is widespread and fuelled by public attitudes and expectations. This study assessed knowledge, beliefs, and practices regarding antibiotic use for these paediatric infections among children's caregivers' in Trinidad and Tobago in the English speaking Caribbean. In a cross-sectional observational study, by random survey children's adult caregivers gave a telephone interview from November 1998 to January 1999. On a pilot-tested evaluation instrument, respondents provided information about their knowledge and beliefs of antibiotics, and their use of these agents to treat recent episodes (< previous 30 days) of upper respiratory tract infections in children under their care. Caregivers were scored on an antibiotic knowledge test and divided based on their score. Differences between those with high and low scores were compared using the chi-square test. Of the 417 caregivers, 70% were female and between 18-40 years, 77% were educated to high school and beyond and 43% lived in urban areas. Two hundred and forty nine (60%) respondents scored high (>or12) on antibiotic knowledge and 149 (34%) had used antibiotics in the preceding year. More caregivers with a high knowledge score had private health insurance (33%), (p < 0.02), high school education (57%) (p < 0.002), and had used antibiotics in the preceding year (p < 0.008) and within the last 30 days (p < 0.05). Caregivers with high scores were less likely to demand antibiotics (p < 0.05) or keep them at home (p < 0.001), but more likely to self-treat with antibiotics (p < 0.001). Caregivers administered antibiotics in 241/288 (84%) self-assessed severe episodes of infection (p < 0.001) and in 59/126 (43%) cough and cold episodes without visiting a health clinic or private physician (p < 0.05). In Trinidad and Tobago, caregivers scoring low on antibiotic knowledge have erroneous beliefs and use antibiotics inappropriately. Children in their care receive antibiotics for upper respiratory tract infections without visiting a health clinic or a physician. Educational interventions in the community on the consequences of inappropriate antibiotic use in children are recommended. Our findings emphasise the need to address information, training, legislation and education at all levels of the drug delivery system towards discouraging self-medication with antibiotics in children.

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Accession: 048451500

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PMID: 15574193

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2296-5-28


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