Nursing home residents’ experiences and perceptions of antibiotic use: A qualitative descriptive study


      • Residents of nursing homes (NH) described unmet antibiotic informational needs.
      • A subset of residents described seeking antibiotics from prescribers in the NH.
      • Residents may influence antibiotic treatment decisions in the NH setting.
      • Residents should be engaged in efforts to improve antibiotic prescribing in NHs.


      Antibiotics are commonly used in the nursing home (NH) setting. Little is known of NH residents’ perceptions and experiences regarding antibiotic use.


      This was a qualitative descriptive study. We conducted individual, semi-structured interviews with NH residents. Interview transcripts were analyzed using conventional content analysis.


      Twenty-six residents were interviewed. Four themes emerged: (1) perceived benefits and risks to antibiotics; (2) information needs regarding antibiotic treatment; (3) approaches to address information needs; and (4) resident involvement in antibiotic treatment decisions. The perceived benefits of antibiotics were described as symptom-relief and cure; risks included gastrointestinal symptoms and antibiotic resistance. Informational needs included the indication for antibiotics, risks and side-effects of antibiotics, and potential interactions between antibiotic treatments and medication regimens. Residents performed information seeking behaviors to address informational needs but described difficulty obtaining and recalling desired information. Diverse involvement in antibiotic treatment decisions were described, in which a subset of participants reported seeking antibiotics from their prescriber.


      Future efforts aiming to improve collaborative decision making and antibiotic use in the NH setting should address the unmet information needs of NH residents regarding their antibiotic treatment plans.

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