Research Article: A comparative study regarding antibiotic consumption and knowledge of antimicrobial resistance among pharmacy students in Australia and Sri Lanka

Date Published: March 13, 2019

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): M. H. F. Sakeena, Alexandra A. Bennett, Stephen J. Carter, Andrew J. McLachlan, Holly Seale.

http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0213520

Abstract

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major global health challenge. Pharmacists play a key role in the health care setting to support the quality use of medicines. The education and training of pharmacy students have the potential to impact on patterns of antibiotic use in community and hospital settings. The aim of this study was to investigate and compare antibiotic use and knowledge of antibiotics and AMR among undergraduate pharmacy students in Australian and Sri Lankan universities.

A cross-sectional survey was conducted in Australian and Sri Lankan universities that offer a pharmacy degree. A paper-based survey was utilised in Sri Lanka and an identical survey distributed online among pharmacy students in Australia. Descriptive and comparative data analyses were performed.

476 pharmacy students from 14 universities in Australia and 466 students from 6 universities in SL completed the survey. Participants commonly reported previous antibiotic use [Australia (88%) and Sri Lanka (86%)]. The majority of students [Australia (89%) and Sri Lanka (77%)] reported they obtained antibiotics with a prescription. Australian pharmacy students correctly reported regarding optimal antibiotic use for certain disease conditions when compared to Sri Lankan students (P<0.05). A greater antibiotic knowledge level regarding AMR was found among Australian students compared to Sri Lankan students (p<0.05). This study provides an understanding about antibiotic consumption and knowledge on AMR among pharmacy students in a developed country, Australia and a developing country, Sri Lanka. These findings identify possible misconceptions about antibiotics and a lower level of knowledge of AMR amongst Sri Lankan undergraduate pharmacy students. Future research should focus on implementation of a strategic education plan for undergraduate pharmacy students in Sri Lankan universities. The curricula of pharmacy courses in Australian universities may inform such a plan.

Partial Text

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has been called the silent tsunami [1]. It will affect all countries, cost vast amounts of money, prolong illness and affect enormous numbers of lives [1]. In September 2015, World Health Organization (WHO) developed a United-Nations-endorsed Global Action Plan outlining the globally-approved national policy changes that are required to fight its potential devastating effects on the world’s population [2]. WHO has also identified the reduced capacity and lack of preparedness by many lower income countries to fight AMR and their need for greater support. A key strategic objective of the global action plan is to improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance through effective communication, education and training. The objective emphasises the need to make AMR a core component of professional education, training, certification, continuing education and development in health sectors. Pharmacists are medicine experts, trained to ensure quality use of medicines, including antimicrobials, and important members of the healthcare team [3]. There is potential for pharmacists to have greater impact mitigating AMR in the community and hospital settings with enhanced education and training [4]. Augmentation of current education and training of pharmacy students on the use of antibiotics and AMR is likely to be an efficient, effective and cost-effective strategy to influence appropriate behaviours by healthcare professionals and consumers regarding antibiotic use.

This study investigated self-reported antibiotic use, knowledge of antibiotics and AMR among undergraduate pharmacy students in Australia and Sri Lanka. Antibiotic use was highly prevalent among undergraduate pharmacy students in both countries. Greater knowledge of antibiotics and AMR were noted among Australian pharmacy students. Nationally accredited pharmacy curricula in Australia, well-monitored medicines regulations, availability of qualified pharmacists in community pharmacies and a higher overall socioeconomic status in Australia might be factors that have contributed to the reported appropriate antibiotic use among pharmacy students in Australian universities. In contrast, Sri Lankan undergraduate pharmacy students appeared to have some misconceptions about antibiotic use and a lower level of knowledge about antibiotics and AMR. This would suggest the need to improve pharmacy education and knowledge about antibiotics amongst pharmacy students in Sri Lanka.

This study provides an understanding about antibiotic use and knowledge of AMR among pharmacy students in a developed country, Australia and a developing country, Sri Lanka. Antibiotic use was highly prevalent among undergraduate pharmacy students in both countries. These findings identify some misconceptions about antibiotics and a lower level of knowledge of AMR among Sri Lankan undergraduate pharmacy students. This has the potential to increase the inappropriate use of antibiotics in Sri Lanka. This research provides a way forward for Sri Lankan authorities and policy makers to take action on AMR by supporting strategies such as adequate education and training for pharmacists. This will minimize inappropriate antibiotic use and the growth of AMR, and in particular describes the role that improved education on AMR and the greater involvement of pharmacists can have in meeting the goals of this national strategic plan for combating AMR.

 

Source:

http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0213520

 

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