Skip to content
Medical Health Aged Care, Research Development

Study highlights reasons behind antibiotic use in children in rural and remote NT

Charles Darwin University 2 mins read
Charles Darwin University (CDU) researchers have explored the factors that contribute to a parent's decision to give their children antibiotics to learn more about overuse and misuse of antibiotics.

Northern Territory mothers living in remote or rural areas often make decisions about the need for antibiotics for their children out of fear or based on the advice of their personal network a new study by Charles Darwin University (CDU) researchers has found.

Lead author and CDU PhD student Stephanie Marsh has explored the factors that contribute to a parent’s decision to give their children antibiotics to learn more about overuse and misuse of antibiotics, a key driver for the acceleration of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

AMR, which is when micro-organisms such as bacteria and fungi defeat the drugs designed to kill them, is fast becoming an urgent global health threat.

Ms Marsh said as children are amongst the highest recipients of antibiotics, there is a great need for understanding the drivers of parental decisions towards their children’s antibiotic use.

“There is limited information around antibiotic use and the reasons behind it in rural and remote areas in the NT,” Ms Marsh said.

“We need to learn about and understand these behaviours, including those that are less optimal to help find ways to combat AMR.”

For the study, Ms Marsh conducted focus groups with mothers in rural and remote communities across the Territory.

A significant finding from the study revealed that decisions about the use of antibiotics were not always knowledge based and were often driven by fear of serious illness.

“The mothers we spoke with displayed some accurate knowledge that antibiotics treat bacterial infections, which contributed to their general understanding of the role of antibiotic medicines,” Ms Marsh said.

“However, decisions about the use of antibiotics were not always based on knowledge with parental beliefs also guiding opinions and behaviour.”

When making health decisions about the use of antibiotics, participants in the study indicated that they often obtained guidance from others.

“The mothers reported that despite favouring the doctor’s advice when deciding on antibiotic treatment for their child, they also highly valued input from others in their social network, such as friends and family,” Ms Marsh said.

“Whilst they may obtain this advice differently and for varying reasons, nearly all parents reported to seek additional direction from others to alleviate their concerns.”

Interestingly, the study found that mothers are more cautious in their approach towards antibiotics use in infants.

“We saw differences in the findings between first time mothers of a child less than 12 months of age and mothers with more than one child,” Ms Marsh said.

“First time mothers with babies had the most optimal behaviours with antibiotics, this was likely due to these parents having less exposure to using antibiotics and managing childhood illnesses than parents with older and multiple children.”

Access to healthcare also played a significant role in the mother’s decisions to utilise antibiotics with nearly all mothers raising difficulties with their children being seen by a GP in a timely manner.

Ms Marsh’s supervisor Professor Mitchell Byrne said the findings from this research would help inform interventions to reduce the impact of AMR.

“From this study, we now understand the drivers behind parental decisions to give their children antibiotics in rural and remote areas which will help us to formulate a range of primarily educational based interventions,”

The project team which includes CDU Lecturer in Psychology Dr Sara Parsafar, who is co-supervisor, will now look to commence a systemic review of parental decisions regarding antibiotic use in children across the world to assist with the development of interventions.

The study which can be found here.

Contact details:

Emily Bostock
Acting Research Communications Officer

T: +61 8 8946 6529
M: 0432 417 518


More from this category

  • Medical Health Aged Care
  • 29/11/2023
  • 12:07
Hola Health

Leading health tech firm named among fastest-growing Australian start-ups

Hola Health, a leading local health tech start-up providing telehealth and online script fulfillment services to a growing number of Australians, has been named in the top 5 fastest-growing new companies in the country in a prestigious annual list. The Australian Financial Review’s Fast Starters list recognises Australia’s 100 fastest-growing start-ups and young companies.It shows Hola Health grew revenue from around $100,000 in 2020/21 to $3.8 million last financial year. It is on track to exceed $10 million in revenue by the end of this financial year. In naming Hola Health at number five on the list, the AFR hailed…

  • Contains:
  • Medical Health Aged Care
  • 29/11/2023
  • 07:34
Public Health Association of Australia / Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health

New research reveals how babies and toddlers are targeted with unhealthy foods

Wednesday 29 November 2023 Babies and toddlers can't read or buy food yet, but new research reveals that they are being targeted with aggressive marketing in the baby and toddler aisle at the supermarket. The research, published today in theAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health,has prompted health experts to call for regulation of on-pack labelling and promotional techniques used on baby and toddler food. Authors analysed 230 product packs found in two major supermarkets to uncover the marketing techniques used by manufacturers of products for children aged from just six months to three years. They found that 9…

  • Medical Health Aged Care
  • 29/11/2023
  • 06:05
Royal Australian College of GPs

RACGP backs duty of care bill for climate change harms

Australia’s largest representative body for GPs has thrown its support behind a duty of care bill requiring the Federal Government to protect young people from climate change harms in decision-making. It comes in the lead up to the first-ever Health Day at the COP28 UN Climate Conference, on Sunday 3 December, which will highlight the health impacts of climate change and the health case for climate action. Independent ACT Senator David Pocock introduced the bill which proposes government must consider the wellbeing of young people and future generations when making decisions that facilitate or fund projects that could significantly increase…

Media Outreach made fast, easy, simple.

Feature your press release on Medianet's News Hub every time your distribute with Medianet. Pay per release or save with a subscription.