Comparing public attitudes, knowledge, beliefs and behaviours towards antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance in Australia, United Kingdom, and Sweden (2010-2021): A systematic review, meta-analysis, and comparative policy analysis
Background Social and behavioural drivers of inappropriate antibiotic use contribute to antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Recent reports indicate the Australian community consumes more than twice the defined daily doses (DDD) of antibiotics per 1000 population than in Sweden, and about 20% more than in the United Kingdom (UK). We compare measures of public knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) surrounding AMR in Australia, the UK and Sweden against the policy approaches taken in these settings to address inappropriate antibiotic use. Methods National antimicrobial stewardship policies in Australia, Sweden, and the UK were reviewed, supplemented by empirical studies of their effectiveness. We searched PubMed, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Web of Science and CINAHL databases for primary studies of the general public's KAP around antibiotic use and AMR in each setting (January 1 2011 until July 30 2021). Where feasible, we meta-analysed data on the proportion of participants agreeing with identical or very similar survey questions, using a random effects model. Results Policies in Sweden enact tighter control of community antibiotic use; reducing antibiotic use through public awareness raising is not a priority. Policies in the UK and Australia are more reliant on practitioner and public education to encourage appropriate antibiotic use. 26 KAP were included in the review and 16 were meta-analysable. KAP respondents in Australia and the UK are consistently more likely to report beliefs and behaviours that are not aligned with appropriate antibiotic use, compared to participants in similar studies conducted in Sweden. Conclusions Interactions between public knowledge, attitudes and their impacts on behaviours surrounding community use of antibiotics are complex and contingent. Despite a greater focus on raising public awareness in Australia and the UK, neither antibiotic consumption nor community knowledge and attitudes are changing significantly. Clearly public education campaigns can contribute to mitigating AMR. However, the relative success of policy approaches taken in Sweden suggests that practice level interventions may also be required to activate prescribers and the communities they serve to make substantive reductions in inappropriate antibiotic use.
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University of Wollongong