Over A Third Of Brits In The Dark Over When Antibiotics Are Needed, New Abbott Survey Reveals
- A new survey shows that over a third (37%) of people in the UK either don’t know or are misinformed about what antibiotics can effectively treat.
- Preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics is important as recent UK Government data shows the number of severe antibiotic-resistant infections in England rising by 2.2% in 2021 compared to 2020.
- Increasingly, a simple, three-minute rapid blood test is being used in primary care to help identify patients who would benefit from antibiotics, and those who would not.
Maidenhead, 21 Feb 2023 – A new survey from global healthcare company, Abbott, has found that over a third (37%) of Brits either don’t know or are misinformed as to what illnesses antibiotics can effectively treat.
The research, which explored issues surrounding antimicrobial resistance (AMR), also revealed that 38% of those surveyed wrongly agreed that typical cold, cough, and flu-like illnesses, or upper respiratory tract infections (RTIs), are generally treatable with a course of antibiotics –despite the vast majority (90%) of such infections being self-limiting viral infections and therefore untreatable by antibioticsi.
Antimicrobial resistance occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines, making infections harder to treatii. The World Health Organisation considers it (AMR) a global health and development threat, declaring it to be one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity. Misuse and overuse of antimicrobials, including antibiotics, are the main drivers in the development of drug-resistant pathogensii.
In the UK – where at least 20% of antibiotics prescriptions handed out by primary care professionals are inappropriate for the ailment being treatediii – UK Health Security Agency data published just last month indicated the growing scale of the issue, with the number of severe antibiotic-resistant infections in England rising by 2.2% in 2021 compared to 2020iv. This is the equivalent of 148 severe antibiotic resistant infection strains a day in 2021.
Whilst nearly two thirds (63%) of Brits say that they would prefer to only get antibiotics when they’re really needed, there is a current lack of awareness about AMR, with only a third (35%) saying that they have heard the term ‘antimicrobial resistance’ before. Crucially, while 60% of patients trust their doctor’s opinion on when they need antibiotics, 11% say they would like to get antibiotics when they feel sick to be on the safe side regardless of whether they needed them.
Rapid testing can be used when a patient is experiencing symptoms from a respiratory infection, such as coughing, a sore throat or runny nose. Increasingly, a simple, three-minute rapid blood test, such as Abbott’s Afinion c-reactive protein (CRP) test, is being used in primary care and helping healthcare professionals to identify patients who would benefit from antibiotics, and those who would not. CRP is a biomarker that is used to assess the severity of inflammation and to predict the severity of an infection. Self-limiting infections (whether viral or bacterial) are those that tend to resolve themselves without further treatment. Used alongside clinical observation of signs and symptoms, a simple fingerstick CRP test can help reduce uncertainty in patients with colds, coughs and flu-like symptomsv.
Dr. Aggy York, an NHS GP Urgent and Primary Care clinical lead at Heywood Middleton and Rochdale said: “CRP testing is rapidly emerging as a useful tool in our arsenal and a conversation-starter with patients who may not otherwise be as understanding about the need to save antibiotics for serious illnesses. GPs are well-aware of the long-term challenges posed to the healthcare system by the over-prescribing of antibiotic medications. Increasing AMR will render some of the most treatable ailments untreatable and could significantly damage our healthcare system’s ability to help patients fight infections.
“In addition to clinical assessment, CRP testing can add evidential weight to a GPs argument that a patient shouldn’t receive antibiotics, or conversely, in circumstances where patients underestimate just how unwell they are, put a quantifiable number on how infected they might be.”
Already in 2019 an estimated 4,95 million deaths were associated with bacterial AMR and from those 1,27 million deaths have been directly attributable to AMRvi. In Abbott’s survey, 30% of respondents said that if they knew there was a test they could take to confirm if they needed antibiotics or not when they were unwell, they would request this from their doctor.
Dr. Susanne Emmerich, ass. director of medical affairs, Rapid Diagnostics, Abbott, said: “Ensuring that doctors have the tools to ensure that antibiotics are prescribed responsibly, such as rapid CRP point of care testing combined with clinical evaluation of patient signs and symptoms, will help to address the issues AMR is causing. CRP point of care testing is a proven tool to support the prescribing decision of the doctor leading to a reduction of antibiotic prescribing. With a number of illnesses that we take for granted as being treatable becoming increasingly difficult to treat as a result of AMR, we need to act now.”
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About the survey
The research was carried out online between 10th November 2022 and 14th November 2022 by Independent Media News, on behalf of Abbott. The sample comprised 2,019 UK adults
Fiona Lloyd +44(0)7780955718
iiWorld Health Organization: Antimicrobial Resistance. Available here: www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/antimicrobial-resistance
iiiPublic Health England : Research reveals levels of inappropriate prescriptions in England. Available here: www.gov.uk/government/news/research-reveals-levels-of-inappropriate-prescriptions-in-england
ivUK Health Security Agency : New data shows 148 severe antibiotic-resistant infections a day in 2021. Available here: www.gov.uk/government/news/new-data-shows-148-severe-antibiotic-resistant-infections-a-day-in-2021
vAbbott Afinion CRP: Make every minute count brochure. And ENASPOC: Expert Group Consensus Statements. Available here: https://www.enaspoc.com/consensus-statements
viAntimicrobial Resistance Collaborators. Global burden of bacterial antimicrobial resistance in 2019: a systematic analysis. The Lancet 2022. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)02724-0/fulltext