Knowledge, attitude and antibiotic prescribing patterns of medical doctors providing free healthcare in the outpatient departments of public hospitals in Sierra Leone: a national cross-sectional study.

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Journal Article
Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 2020, 114, (6), pp. 448-458
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BACKGROUND:Antibiotic resistance is a global health crisis and irrational prescribing behaviour has been identified as a contributing factor. The current study aimed to assess the knowledge of, attitudes towards and practices regarding antibiotic prescribing of medical doctors providing free healthcare services in the outpatient departments of public hospitals in Sierra Leone. In addition, we evaluated prescribing patterns of antibiotics. METHODS:The study has two parts. First, we conducted a cross-sectional survey using a self-administered questionnaire to assess doctor's knowledge of, attitudes towards and practices regarding prescribing antibiotics. Second, using patient medical records, we used the World Health Organization methodology on how to assess drug use in health facilities to evaluate prescribing patterns of antibiotics in four selected public hospitals in Sierra Leone. RESULTS:Of 130 administered questionnaires, 119 were returned, for a response rate of 91.5%. The majority of doctors (n=83 [69.7%]) agreed that amoxicillin is safe in the first 3 weeks of pregnancy and considered antibiotic resistance a global (n=108 [90.7%]) and national (n=97 [81.5%]) public health crisis. Less than a quarter of medical doctors agreed that antibiotics may speed up the recovery when added to malaria (n=25 [21%]) or cold and cough (n=81 [68%]) therapies. Prescribing pattern results show that children <5 y of age (adjusted odds ratio 5.199 [confidence interval 2.743 to 9.855], p<0.0001) were more likely to be prescribed an antibiotic than pregnant women/lactating mothers. Penicillins were the most commonly prescribed pharmacological class of antibiotics, with amoxicillin being the most commonly prescribed penicillin. CONCLUSIONS:Doctors demonstrated a sound knowledge of antibiotics and antibiotics resistance, with a positive attitude towards prescribing antibiotics. However, the prescribing pattern of antibiotics was irrational, necessitating the need for the establishment of audit and feedback programmes such as antimicrobial stewardship programmes.
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