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Gallup Poll on Consumer Knowledge of and Experience with Antibiotic Use


When NIPA was launched to the public in a 1997 news conference, antibiotic experts also announced the results of a Gallup poll on the attitudes, knowledge and opinion of Canadians towards antibiotics.

This poll was based on phone interviews with a national sample of Canadian adults, half of whom had taken antibiotics before. Almost a third of the households surveyed had a child that had taken antibiotics in the past. The poll revealed that many patients fail to follow the directions when they take antibiotics - the medical term for this is non-compliance.

Here are the highlights:

  • 49 % agreed (mistakenly) that "antibiotics are effective against colds and flu"
  • 21% of people who had been prescribed an oral antibiotic reported that they have had medication left over at times
  • 34% reported that they had forgotten to take their medication as scheduled
  • 26% of these people reported that they have stopped taking their medication before the entire prescription was gone
  • Of those people who said they had medication leftover, 56% said it was because they felt better.
  • When asked what they did with the leftover medication, 63% said they threw it away
  • 20% of people said they put the leftover antibiotics in their medicine chest
  • 2% of people surveyed reported they did not fill the prescription the last time an antibiotic was prescribed
  • When asked if they had ever heard of the term "antibiotic resistant infection", 50% said "yes"
  • Among those aware of antibiotic resistant infections, 34% said they were diseases that do not respond to antibiotics
  • Almost all adults (95%) agree that antibiotics should be taken only when they are really needed

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