Knowledge and Attitude Towards Antimicrobial Resistance of Graduating Health Science Students of Wollega University
Received 14 August 2020
Accepted for publication 26 October 2020
Published 3 November 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 3937—3944
Checked for plagiarism Yes
Review by Single anonymous peer review
Peer reviewer comments 2
Editor who approved publication: Professor Suresh Antony
Getahun Fetensa,1 Bizuneh Wakuma,1 Tadesse Tolossa,2 Ginenus Fekadu,3 Tariku Tesfaye Bekuma,2 Lamma Fayisa,1 Werku Etafa,1 Tilahun Bekela,4 Merga Besho,4 Nesru Hiko,1 Marga Bayou Bekele,5 Deressa Worku,5 Girma Yadesa,6 Reta Tsegaye1
1Department of Nursing, Institute of Health Sciences, Wollega University, Nekemte, Ethiopia; 2Department of Public Health, Institute of Health Sciences, Wollega University, Nekemte, Ethiopia; 3Department of Pharmacy, Institute of Health Sciences, Wollega University, Nekemte, Ethiopia; 4Department of Midwifery, Institute of Health Sciences, Wollega University, Nekemte, Ethiopia; 5Department of Nursing, College of Health Science, Arsi University, Arsella, Ethiopia; 6Department of Nursing, College of Medical and Health Science, Dirre Dawa University, Dirre Dawa, Ethiopia
Correspondence: Getahun Fetensa Department of Nursing
Institute of Health Sciences, Wollega University, P.O Box 395, Nekemte, Ethiopia
Email [email protected]
Background: Antimicrobial resistance is a worldwide concern due to the inappropriate and irrational use of antibiotics. Thus, this study was aimed at determining the knowledge and attitude of graduating health science students of Wollega University towards antimicrobial resistance.
Methods: An institution-based cross-sectional study design was employed from June to July 2019. Epi-data version 3.1 was used to receive data and exported to SPSS version 25 for further analysis. Both bivariable and multivariable logistic regression analysis were done to find factors associated with attitudes of students towards antibiotic consumption and resistance at a 95% confidence level. The strength of association was measured with the odds ratio. Variables with a p-value of < 0.05 at multivariable analysis were considered to be a significant variable. Finally, texts and simple frequency tables were used to present the findings.
Results: Out of 249, 232 students were included in this survey yielding a response rate of 93.6%. Hundred fifty-eight (68.1%) of them had adequate knowledge about antibiotic identification, role, side effects, and resistance. Students with a family member who works in health and related professions had a lower probability of stopping antibiotics when they feel better (AOR = 0.50, 95% CI: 0.28– 0.90) and using leftover antibiotics (AOR = 0.51, 95% CI: 0.28– 0.92) compared to their counterparts.
Conclusion: Students’ knowledge on antibiotic identification, role, side effects, and resistance was suboptimal, and the attitude of students towards antibiotic consumption was unfavorable. Respondents having a family member in a health-related field showed a good attitude. Respondents with three years of study also had a good attitude, female gender showed good attitude, and urban residence were independent predictors of attitude toward antibiotic consumption. Training on antimicrobial resistance should be arranged for graduating class nursing and medical students, as they are the future prescribers.
Keywords: knowledge, attitude, antimicrobial resistance, university students
Antimicrobial consumption differs widely among countries.1 Adequate knowledge about resistance to antibiotics is critical in the prevention of resistance as poor knowledge will lead to its inappropriate use.2–4 Antimicrobial resistance is a significant problem5 and non-reasonable use of antimicrobial consumption results in antibiotic resistance.6,7 Bacteria lresistance to antibiotic treatments (antimicrobial resistance, AMR) is a critical public health problem, and containment of AMR is an urgent priority, globally.8 Understanding the use of antibiotics is parallel with a student’s year of study. Put another way, those who acknowledged the emergence of occurrence of bacterial resistance were more likely to have appropriate knowledge on antibiotic effectiveness.9 Results from a systematic review of developing countries on health practitioners found that antibiotic resistance was a general problem (75.2%), a global problem (84.7%), a national problem (88.0%), a problem in their health facilities (71.9%), and a problem in their daily practice (71.7%). Up to 78.2% of the participants reported that they were very confident or confident in antibiotic prescribing.10 AMR might arise from different attitudes of consumers, such as antibiotics can prevent illnesses from becoming worse (74%). Fewer than half believe that antibiotics have no side effects (24%), that antibiotics can cure any disease (40%), and that antibiotic powders poured onto the skin can quickly cure injuries (37%).6
The occurrence of AMR will also lead doctors to shift from previous to current new antimicrobials as broad-spectrum therapy. In the occurrence of new antimicrobial health, professionals will consider another option to halt the transmission of infectious organisms for preventing the development of resistance to a previous treatment options. These all contribute to the existence of burden of AMR.11
One major challenge in developing countries is self-medication with antibiotics (53.5%).12 AMR is a problem with multi-damage that can be tackled by the public if it is used responsibly.13 The major cause of AMR is the non-reasonable use of antibiotics in the health facilities and by the whole society.8 Therefore, the current study aimed at identifying the knowledge and attitude of graduating health science students of Wollega University towards AMR, which has not yet been studied. The result of this finding is aimed to be used for educational and policy change.
Study Design and Study Population
A university-based cross-sectional study design was undertaken at Wollega University Institute of Health Sciences, starting June to July 2019. The study area is 327 km west from Addis Ababa, the capital city, This survey was undertaken on students studying a Bachelor of Science at the Institute of Health Sciences in the academic year 2018/2019. As we obtain information from the Institute’s assistant office of the registrar, there were 249 Bachelor of Science completing students in the 2018/2019 academic year in eight academic units comprising pediatrics and neonatology, emergency and critical care nursing, surgical and operation room theatre nursing, psychiatry and ophthalmic nursing, generic nursing, midwifery, pharmacy, and health officer.
Sample Size and Sampling Procedure
Because the total population under the study was less than the calculated sample size, which was only 242, we therefore considered all of the respondents who can satisfy the inclusion criteria who were invited for their response.
Tool for Data Collection and Data Collection Technique
Data were collected using a semistructured tool, which was taken from a previous study.14 The tool includes 25 questions (three sociodemographic, one source of information, nine knowledge, and 12 attitude questions). The tools focus on different directions of the respondent’s knowledge, attitude and practice regarding ordering antibiotics.
Then respondents were requested to respond to the questionnaire. The data collectors supervised the respondents during completion of the tool by restricting the use of reference material and discussion with their friends to find the correct answer.
Data Collection Instrument
The tool contains five parts. Part I has eight sociodemographic items, part II concerns frequency of antibiotics use, part III has nine items on knowledge about antibiotics, part IV has six items about awareness of antibiotics resistance, and part V has eight items regarding attitude towards consumption of antibiotics. In total, a 31-point self-administered questionnaire was adapted from a previous study conducted in Italy.14
Data Processing and Analysis
Epi-data version 3.1 software was used for data entry after checking its completeness and consistency. Then, data were exported to SPSS version 25 for analysis and interpretation. The descriptive statistics were presented with frequency and percentage. Finally, the analyzed data were organized and presented in tabular, graphical, and narrative forms as necessary.
Wollega University Research Ethics Review Committee (WUREC) approved this research before actual data collection. A consent sheet was prepared in English and attached to the tool ona separate page. There was a consent form with the purpose of the study and a description as the study has no impact over the respondents. Signed informed consent was taken from all respondents prior to data collection.
Among 249 respondents who were invited to this study, 232 responded fully, with a response rate of 93.6%. Eighty-two (35.3%) respondents have been followed during their study within the university for three years, while 55 (23.7%) were followed for five years. According to this study of total study respondents, 65.9% (153) have stated that they have practiced antibiotics use with around 43.8% of the practice 1–2 times and 3%–5% each while 13.4% have practiced more than five times in last year (Table 1).
Table 1 Socio-demographic Characteristics of Graduating Health Sciences of Wollega University Western, Ethiopia 2019
Knowledge About Antibiotics Role, Side Effects and AMR
Twelve questions with three categories (Antibiotics role, Side effects, and AMR) were utilized. Accordingly, 84.9% of respondents agree that penicillin or amoxicillin is an antibiotic, while 73.3% of respondents disagree that aspirin is an antibiotic. Twenty-eight percent of respondents wrongly categorized paracetamol as antibiotics and 72.6% of respondents knew that antibiotics are used for the treatment of bacterial disease. Regarding AMR, 86.6% of respondents knew that irrational consumption of antimicrobials results in antibiotic resistance; however, 32.1% agree that it is okay to discontinue taking antimicrobials when symptoms are disappearing, which is the main reason for the occurrence of AMR (Table 2).
Table 2 Knowledge About Antibiotics Use Among Graduating Health Sciences of Wollega University Western, Ethiopia 2019
Attitude Towards Antimicrobials
More than half (56.5%) of respondents have the attitude that antimicrobials have to be taken only if prescribed by a doctor, while 52.2% have the attitude that antimicrobials can be bought without a doctor/health professional order. Also, 53.9% of respondents had started an antibiotic therapy after a simple a doctor's/health professional's call, without a proper medical examination (Table 3).
Table 3 Attitude Towards Antimicrobial Resistance Among Graduating Health Sciences Students of Wollega University Western, Ethiopia 2019
Multivariable Logistic Regression
Multivariable analysis showed that students who had family members working in health and related professions had a lower likelihood of stopping antimicrobial use when they started to feel better (AOR= 0.50, 0.28–0.90). Respondents that come from a family member with health and health-related professions were less likely to use leftover antibiotics (AOR= 0.51, 95% CI: 0.28–0.92) when compared to their counterparts (Table 4).
Table 4 Variables Associated with Attitudes and Behaviors About Antimicrobial Consumption Among Graduating Health Sciences Students of Wollega University Western, Ethiopia Multivariable Results on 2019
Similarly, a lower probability of using leftover antibiotics (AOR=0.27, 95% CI:0.12–0.63) and using follow-up phone calls for a doctor without any medical evaluation (AOR=0.31, 95% CI:0.14–0.67) was found among students with three years of university study as compared to 5 years of university study. However, the probability of taking antibiotics only when prescribed by the doctor was 2.16 times higher among students with three years of university study as compared to five years study (AOR=2.16, 95% CI:1.05–4.42). The study also indicated that males were 3.42 times more likely to stop taking antibiotics when they start to feel better compared to their female counterparts (AOR=3.42, 95% CI:1.505–7.767). Concerning residence, urban dwellers were less likely to use leftover drugs (AOR= 0.46, 95% CI:0.26–0.83) compared to their counterparts (Table 5).
Table 5 Multi-Variable Analysis Result on Intention to Use Antimicrobial Consumption Among Graduating Health Sciences Students of Wollega University Western, Ethiopia 2019
Antimicrobial resistance is global public health agenda due to inappropriate and irrational use of antibiotics.15,16 There is a dearth of information on the knowledge of health science students about antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance as well as their attitudes towards antibiotics consumption in Ethiopia, particularly in the study area.
In the present study, about three-fourths of the respondents agreed that antibiotics are useful for bacterial infections. However, 29.7% and 39.7% of them wrongly agreed that antibiotics are useful for viral infections and any kinds of pain and inflammation, respectively. This finding is comparable with a study done in India (22%) and Kuwait (42.6%) where the study subjects agreed that antibiotics are effective in viral infections.17,18 However, it was lower than the study conducted in Italy, in which more than 95% of subjects agreed on antibiotics used for bacterial infections but they are not indicated for any kind of pain and inflammations.19 This is probably due to the difference in the socio-economic and cultural backgrounds of the study respondents. It may also have resulted from a difference in the depth of academic training and professional practice. Moreover, in the present study, about 28% of respondents wrongly agreed that paracetamol is an antibiotic that can reduce pain. This is comparable to the study done in Central and Southeast Europe,20 in which the students believed that paracetamol is an antibiotic that treats pain, although the proportion was reducing with advancing years of study.
With regard to antimicrobial side effects, 75.9%, 54.7% and 63.4% of the study participants claimed that antimicrobials kill important normal flora, lead to secondary infections, and result in allergic reactions, respectively. This is again lower than a study done in Italy where more than 90% of study subjects claimed the aforementioned side effects. However, it is comparable with a study done in India, which pointed out that 73.7% of respondents agreed that antibiotics could kill good bacteria. This might be due to the difference in education quality.19,21
With regards to AMR knowledge, the current study pointed out that 64.2% of subjects knew about antibiotic resistance. Consistent with this finding, a study from Hungary indicated that participants have realized the public health impact of antimicrobial resistance.22 As it is a condition for which a bacterium loses its response towards an antimicrobial, 86.6% agreed that antibiotic misuse leads to resistance and 67.7% agreed on taking a full course of antibiotic treatment irrespective of symptomatic improvement to prevent the development of antimicrobial resistance. This is comparable with the study findings from Nigeria (63.3%), Pakistan (62.5%), and India (54.5%).21,23,24 However, it is low compared to the study done in Italy where more than 90% of respondents were agreed that misuse leads to resistance (98%), a full course of treatment is mandatory despite symptoms improving (94.8%), and who knew that antibiotic resistance can occur when the bacteria lose sensitivity to the agent (93.9%). The discrepancies could have resulted from the fact that in developed nations, students can get access to health information even before formal academic education from different sources, which is less likely in developing countries like Ethiopia. On the other hand, it is high compared to the study done in Egypt (52%) and a systematic review done worldwide where 53% of subjects agreed about taking antibiotics despite feeling better and 45.6% of subjects agreed that antibiotic misuse leads to antibiotic resistance according to the review done worldwide.19,25,26
Although respondents have average knowledge of antibiotic use, side effects, and resistance, their attitude/behavior towards antibiotic consumption is not good. This study revealed that 65.9% of respondents took a full course of antibiotic treatment. This is higher than the study done in Jordan, which was 38.8%.27 However, it is lower than the research conducted in Italy, which was 84.78%.14 More than half (60.3%) of the study subjects usually take antibiotics for a cold or sore throat, which is consistent with the study conducted in Egypt (62%).25 Concerning knowledge, 68% of the study subjects were knowledgeable about antibiotics and antibiotic resistance, which is higher than the study findings from Amman, Jordan (23%), and Kuwait (47%),17,27 while it is lower than the study finding from the University of Zambia (87.3%).28 The discrepancy might be due to the reason that the study subjects of Zambia University were only medical students.
In this study, it was found that the students who have a family member employed in health and related areas had a higher probability of taking a full course of antibiotic treatment, which is supported by existing evidence in Italy.19 This is due to the fact that students who have a family member working in the health field might have relatively better awareness about antimicrobial resistance. Furthermore, the present study revealed a lower likelihood of taking leftover antibiotics among students who studied for three years in the university compared to those who studied for five years, which is consistent with a finding from Saudi Arabia.29 This maybe due to the reason that students might have developed overconfidence as they advanced in the year of study and used leftover drugs. Moreover, males were more likely to discard antibiotics as soon as they were feeling better compared to females, which is supported by evidence from India.18
Limitations of the Study
The study was conducted in a single university so its findings cannot be generalized to all medical and health science students in Ethiopia. The study also had recall bias as it took place over an extended period. Social desirability bias might have been introduced because the students might have answered what they expected to be right rather than what they were actually practicing.
Students' knowledge on antibiotic identification, role, side effects and resistance was suboptimal and their attitude towards antibiotic consumption was unfavorable. Respondents having a family member in a health-related field showed good attitude, respondents with three years of study also had good attitude, female gender also had good attitude and urban residence were independent predictors of attitude toward antibiotic consumption. Thus, health professionals should give due attention to discouraging the use of leftover drugs and discontinuing antibiotics when feeling better. Furthermore, training on antimicrobial resistance should be arranged for graduating classes of nursing and medical students, as they are the future prescribers.
AMR, antimicrobial resistance; AOR, adjusted odds ratio; ECCN, Emergency and Critical Care; MLS, Medical Laboratory Science.
Data Sharing Statement
The datasets used for this publication can be obtained from the primary author on reasonable request.
Ethical Approval and Consent to Participate
Wollega University Research Ethics Review Committee (WUREC) approved this research before actual data collection. A consent sheet was prepared in English and attached to the tool as a page. There is a consent form with the purpose of the study and description as the study had no any impact over the respondents. A signed informed consent was taken from all respondents prior to data collection.
Consent for Publication
All authors made a significant contribution to the work reported, whether that is in the conception, study design, execution, acquisition of data, analysis and interpretation, or in all these areas; took part in drafting, revising or critically reviewing the article; gave final approval of the version to be published; have agreed on the journal to which the article has been submitted; and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.
No funding was obtained for this particular work, authorship, or publication of this article.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
1. Stef LAM, Bronzwaer OC, Buchholz U, et al. The relationship between antimicrobial use and antimicrobial resistance in Europe. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2002;8:3.
2. Azevedo MM, Pinheiro C, Yaphe J, et al. Portuguese students’ knowledge of antibiotics: a cross-sectional study of secondary school and university students in Braga. BMC Public Health. 2009;9(1):359. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-359
3. Brinkman DJ, Tichelaar J, Graaf S, Otten RH, Richir MC, van Agtmael MA. Systematic review andmeta-analysis do final-year medical students have sufficient prescribing competencies? A systematic literature review. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2018;84.
4. Gajdács M, Paulik E, Szabó A. Public knowledge, attitude and practices towards antibiotics and antibiotic resistance: a cross-sectional study in Szeged District, Hungary. Acta Pharm Hung. 2020;90:5–14. doi:10.33892/aph.2020.90.5-14
5. Wasserman S, Potgieter S, Shoul E, et al. South African medical students’ perceptions and knowledge about antibiotic resistance and appropriate prescribing: are we providing adequate training to future prescribers? SAMJ. 2017;107:5.
6. Widayati A, Suryawati S, de Crespigny C, et al. Knowledge and beliefs about antibiotics among people in Yogyakarta City Indonesia: a cross sectional population-based survey. Antimicrob Resist Infect Control. 2012;1:38. doi:10.1186/2047-2994-1-38
7. Aslam A, Gajdács M, Zin CS, et al. Public awareness and practices towards self-medication with antibiotics among the malaysian population. a development of questionnaire and pilot-testing. antibiotics. 2020;9:97. doi:10.3390/antibiotics9020097
8. Yonghong Xiao JZ, Zheng B, Zhao L, Sujuan L, Li L. Changes in Chinese policies to promote the rational use of antibiotics. PLoS Med. 10:11.
9. Steve Harakeh MA, Ungapen H, Hammad R, et al. Perceptions of medical students towards antibiotic prescribing for upper respiratory tract infections in Saudi Arabia. 2014.
10. Howard DH, Scott R, et al. The economic burden of drug resistance. Clin Infect Dis. 2005;41(s4):S283–S286. doi:10.1086/430792
11. Chaw PS, Höpner J, Mikolajczyk R. The knowledge, attitude and practice of health practitioners towards antibiotic prescribing and resistance in developing countries—A systematic review. J Clin Pharm Ther.
12. Abera B, Kibret M, Mulu W. Knowledge and beliefs on antimicrobial resistance among physicians and nurses in hospitals in Amhara Region, Ethiopia. BMC Pharmacol Toxicol. 2014;15:26. doi:10.1186/2050-6511-15-26
13. Hussen MS, Hussen MS. Knowledge and attitude towards antimicrobial resistance among final year undergraduate paramedical students at University of Gondar, Ethiopia. BMC Infect Dis. 2018;18:312. doi:10.1186/s12879-018-3199-1
14. Giacomo Scaioli MRG, Gili R, Masucci S, Bert F, Siliquini R. Antibiotic use: a cross-sectional survey assessing the knowledge, attitudes and practices amongst students of a school of medicine in Italy. PLoS One. 2015;10:4.
15. World Health Organization. Antimicrobial Resistance: Global Report on Surveillance. World Health Organization; 2014.
16. Gajdacs M, Albericio F. Antibiotic resistance: from the bench to patients. Antibiotics (Basel. 2019;8:3.
17. Awad AI, Aboud EA. Knowledge, attitude and practice towards antibiotic use among the public in Kuwait. PLoS One. 2015;10:2.
18. Gupta RK, Singh P, Rani R, et al. Antibiotic use: evaluating knowledge, attitude and practices among medical students in a sub Himalayan state. Int J Basic Clin Pharmacol. 2017;6(10):2516–2521. doi:10.18203/2319-2003.ijbcp20174387
19. Scaioli G, Gualano MR, Gili R, et al. Antibiotic use: a cross-sectional survey assessing the knowledge, attitudes and practices amongst students of a school of medicine in Italy. PLoS One. 2015;10(4):4. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0122476
20. Cikes M, Vrdoljak L, Buljan I, et al. Students’ practices and knowledge on antimicrobial usage and resistance in split, croatia: the education of future prescribers. Microbial Drug Resist. 2020;26(6):623–629. doi:10.1089/mdr.2019.0238
21. Mariona P, Lakshmi T. Survey on knowledge, attitude and practice of antimicrobial resistance among dental students. Int J Pharm Sci Rev Res. 2017;43(2):5–7.
22. Gajdács M, Paulik E, Szabó A. Knowledge, attitude and practice of community pharmacists regarding antibiotic use and infectious diseases: a cross-sectional survey in Hungary (KAPPhA-HU). Antibiotics. 2020;9(2):41. doi:10.3390/antibiotics9020041
23. Ayepola OO, Onile-Ere OA, Shodeko OE, et al. Knowledge, attitude and pattern of antibiotic usage among students of a Nigerian University. J Microbiol Infect Dis. 2019;9(01):10–15. doi:10.5799/jmid.537133
24. Nasir A, Goil BD, Eliyas A, et al. Knowledge of antibiotic use, misuse and antibiotic resistance in the slum community in Karachi. Pak J Public Health. 2019;9(1):04–06. doi:10.32413/pjph.v9i1.271
25. Assar A, Abdelraoof MI, Abdel-Maboud M, et al. Knowledge, attitudes, and practices of Egypt’s future physicians towards antimicrobial resistance (KAP-AMR study): a multicenter cross-sectional study. Environmental Science and Pollution Research International. 2020;27(17):21292–21298. doi:10.1007/s11356-020-08534-5
26. Gualano MR, Gili R, Scaioli G, et al. General population’s knowledge and attitudes about antibiotics: a systematic review and meta‐analysis. Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety. 2015;24(1):2–10. doi:10.1002/pds.3716
27. Suaifan G, Shehadeh M, Darwish DA, Al-Ije H, Yousef AM, Darwish RM, et al. A cross-sectional study on knowledge, attitude and behavior related to antibiotic use and resistance among medical and non-medical university students in Jordan. Afr J Pharm Pharmacol. 2012;6(10):763–770.
28. Zulu A, et al. Assessment of knowledge, attitude and practices on antibiotic resistance among undergraduate medical students in the school of medicine at the University of Zambia. Int J Basic Clin Pharmacol. 2020;9:263–270. doi:10.18203/2319-2003.ijbcp20200174
29. Tadvi NA, et al. Knowledge, attitudes and practice regarding antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial use among undergraduate medical students in Majmaah, Saudi Arabia. Journal of Research in Medical and Dental Science. 2019;7(2):75–81.
This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.Download Article [PDF]