Perceptions of medical students towards antibiotic prescribing for upper respiratory tract infections in Saudi Arabia

Steve Harakeh, Musab Almatrafi, Haifa Ungapen, Rotana Hammad, Feras Olayan, Reema Hakim, Mohammed Ayoub, Noura Bakhsh, Saad B Almasaudi, Elie Barbour, Suhad Bahijri, Esam Azhar, Ghazi Damanhouri, Yousef Qari, Taha Kumosani, Zeena Harakeh, Muhammad S Ahmad, Jochen W L Cals, JochenW L Cals

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


INTRODUCTION: This survey evaluates knowledge, attitudes and practices of medical students towards use of antibiotics for upper respiratory infections (URTIs).

METHODOLOGY: Cross-sectional questionnaire study among 1042 randomly selected medical students in Saudi Arabia.

RESULTS: Respondents were mostly Saudis (97.5%), had previous knowledge of antibiotics (99.7%) and their usage (98.3%) against bacterial infections (93.7%). 18.1% thought that they could be used for viral infections. Nearly all students (97.2%) used antibiotics themselves during the previous year and self-medication without a prescription was high at 49% of cases. Most antibiotics were taken for URTI symptoms (61.8%). Female medical students had better knowledge on antibiotic effectiveness against bacteria and viruses, and overall knowledge increased with study year. Health seeking behaviour rates for symptoms of RTI and associated estimated necessity for antibiotics varied but were highest for cough with yellow/green phlegm.

CONCLUSIONS: The depth of knowledge that healthcare professionals have in relation to the proper use of antibiotics is essential in spreading the right message within communities. This is the first large study among medical students in Saudi Arabia, shedding important light on areas for improvement in the medical curriculum as well as antibiotic practices of medical students themselves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e000078
JournalBMJ Open Respiratory Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Journal Article


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