Exploring antibiotic use and practices in a Malaysian community
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Background In Malaysia, antibacterial agents are among the most utilized drugs. There has been an increase in their use in recent years, contributing to an increase of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Objectives This study explores the pattern of antibiotic use and practices in a Malaysian community and identifies the variables associated with a likelihood of non-compliance with a course of antibiotic treatment. Setting The study was conducted in Cheras, a community located to the south-east of Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia. Method A cross-sectional survey was conducted with 250 individuals, using an interviewer-administered questionnaire in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Main outcome measures Frequency of antibiotic use, sources of antibiotics, use of antibiotics without prescription, discontinuation of antibiotic treatment, antibiotic resistance awareness, handling of unused antibiotics, and association between respondents characteristics and compliance with a course of antibiotic treatment. Results Approximately 36 % of the participants (n = 91) had taken antibiotics in the year of the study. The majority (66.8 %) obtained antibiotics from clinics. Almost 80 % of the participants had never obtained antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription. Nearly 55 % discontinued the course of antibiotics once symptoms disappeared. The most common method of disposing leftover antibiotics was throwing them into the household rubbish bin (78.8 %). Only 6.4 % of participants returned leftover antibiotics to the pharmacist or doctor. Univariate analysis revealed that male gender (p = 0.04), lack of knowledge of antibiotic functions (p < 0.0001), and lack of awareness of antibiotic resistance (p < 0.0001) were all significantly associated with a greater likelihood of non-compliance with a full course of prescribed antibiotic treatment. Conclusion Most individuals in the Malaysian community obtained antibiotics through prescription. Non-completion of a course of antibiotic treatment and improper disposal of unused antibiotics need to be addressed to prevent AMR. Male gender, lack of knowledge and awareness of antibiotics and resistance were significantly associated with a greater likelihood of non-compliance with a full course of prescribed antibiotic treatment. Therefore, patient education and counselling about antibiotics and antibacterial resistance is very important to enhance compliance to antibiotic therapy.
KeywordsAntibiotic usage Antimicrobial resistance Community Compliance Malaysia
The author acknowledges Chang Lina, Foo Kah Keet, Low Chia Wen, Sabita Mani, Chiu Li Peng for their assistance in the data collection for this study.
This study received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest to disclose.
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