Ghiga I, Pitchforth E, Stålsby Lundborg C, Machowska A
BMC Prim Care 24 (1) 93 [2023-04-10; online 2023-04-10]
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major global health issue, bringing significant health burden and costs to societies. Increased antibiotic consumption (ABC) is linked to AMR emergence. Some of the known drivers of ABC are antibiotics over-prescription by physicians and their misuse by patients. Family doctors are recognised as important stakeholders in the control of ABC as they prescribe antibiotics and are considered a reliable source of medical information by patients. Therefore, it is important to explore their perceptions, especially in Romania, which has the highest ABC among European Union Member States. Furthermore, there is no published research exploring Romanian family doctors' perceptions regarding this phenomenon. This was a qualitative study with data collection via semi-structured interviews among 12 family doctors. Manifest and latent content analysis was used to gain an in-depth understanding of their perceptions. Findings were mapped onto the domains of the Behaviour Change Wheel to facilitate a theory driven systematization and analysis. Two main subthemes emerged: i) factors affecting ABC and prescribing and ii) potential interventions to tackle ABC and antibiotic resistance. The factors were further grouped in those that related to the perceived behaviour of family doctors or patients as well as those that had to do with the various systems, local contexts and the COVID-19 pandemic. An overarching theme: 'family doctors in Romania see their role differently when it comes to antibiotic resistance and perceive the lack of patient education or awareness as one of the major drivers of ABC' was articulated. The main findings suggested that the perceived factors span across the capability, opportunity and motivational domains of the behaviour change wheel and could be addressed through a variety of interventions - some identified by the participants. Findings can also be viewed through cultural lenses which shed further light on the family doctor- patient dynamic when it comes to antibiotics use. Potential interventions to tackle identified factors emerged, revolving mostly on efforts to educate patients or the public. This exploratory research provides key perspectives and facilitates further research on potential interventions to successfully address AMR in Romania or similar settings.