Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Delayed/back up antibiotic prescriptions: what do the public think?
  1. Cliodna A M McNulty1,
  2. Donna M Lecky1,
  3. Meredith K D Hawking1,
  4. Anna Quigley2,
  5. Chris C Butler3,4,5
  1. 1Primary Care Unit, Public Health England, Microbiology Department, Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, Gloucester, UK
  2. 2Ipsos MORI, Social Research Institute, London, UK
  3. 3Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences Oxford University, Oxford, UK
  4. 4Cardiff University, Institute of Primary Care and Public Health, Cardiff, UK
  5. 5Cwm Taf University Health Board
  1. Correspondence to Professor Cliodna A M McNulty; cliodna.mcnulty{at}


Objective To describe the general public's understanding, acceptance and use of delayed antibiotics.

Design Face to face computer-assisted survey using an Ipsos MORI Capibus survey.

Setting Randomly selected households in England using multistage sampling.

Respondents A representative sample of 1625 adults aged over 15 years and recruited from household visits in England, using age and gender quotas for each area.

Data collection and analysis The survey was undertaken in January 2014. Weights based on gender, age, ethnicity, working status, social grade, housing tenure and Government Office Region corrected for selection biases, so that results are broadly representative of the population.

Main outcomes measures Proportion of respondents; understanding the meaning of the term delayed antibiotic prescription and how the strategy is used in general practice; in favour of, or opposed to clinicians offering them a delayed antibiotic; reporting receipt, use and acceptability of delayed antibiotic prescriptions in the past year.

Results 17% reported fully understanding the meaning of delayed antibiotic prescription and strategy use in general practice;72% were unaware of the term or strategy; 36–39% were in favour of, and 28–30% opposed to clinicians offering them a delayed antibiotic for throat, urine, ear or chest infections. Half of those who were fully aware of the term and practice were in favour of delayed antibiotics. Women, and older respondents, were more strongly opposed to delayed prescribing. Only 4% of all respondents, and 15% of those prescribed an antibiotic, reported being offered a delayed antibiotic in the last year.

Conclusions Wider understanding and acceptance of delayed prescribing may facilitate increased uptake. Further research is needed to determine why groups are so strongly in favour or opposed to delayed prescribing.

  • antimicrobials
  • antibiotics

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

View Full Text

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.