by Heather Woolwine
MUSC researchers were disappointed to find that a year-long, multimedia
educational campaign was not effective in decreasing the high incidence
of acquiring antibiotics without a prescription among Latinos in a
South Carolina community.
Lead study author Arch Mainous III, Ph.D., MUSC Family Medicine
professor, and his colleagues had suggested in previous studies that
self-medication with antibiotics, without a prescription, is common in
Latino communities. Unfortunately, when people misuse antibiotics, this
practice can create “superbugs” immune to medications meant to make
those patients well.
Although most of the 250 adults surveyed in the intervention community
had read or heard something on the radio regarding the appropriate use
of antibiotics (69 percent), the exposure did not lead to differences
in attitudes toward non-prescription antibiotics or having bought them
in the last 12 months. Immigrants who previously purchased antibiotics
without prescriptions in their home country (where there are no or lax
laws restricting antibiotic sales) indicated they were likely to
continue this practice in the United States. Mainous and his colleagues
concluded that these results suggest that usual forms of health
education may not be sufficient to overcome the strong influence of
past behavior. Successful interventions, they offer, may need to
incorporate education about the rationale for why antibiotics are
regulated in the United States.
The full study, A Community Intervention to Decrease Antibiotics Used
for Self-Medication Among Latino Adults, is available in the current
November-December issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.
Friday, Nov. 13, 2009