Alternative approaches to managing respiratory tract infections: a survey of public perceptions

Alex Moore, Rebecca Cannings-John, Christopher C. Butler, Cliodna McNulty, Nick A. Francis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Respiratory tract infections (RTIs) are a common reason for people to consult in primary care, and contribute to antibiotic overuse and antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Alternative approaches to supporting patients with RTIs may help, but it is important to understand public perceptions about these approaches before they are widely implemented. Aim: To describe public perceptions regarding finger- prick testing, back- up antibiotic prescriptions (BUPs), and alternatives to traditional consultations for RTIs, and identify factors associated with favouring these approaches. Design & setting: Online national survey (HealthWise Wales) with linked primary care health record data. Method: Survey item response distributions were described. Associations between responses about consultation alternatives, BUP, and finger- prick point- of- care testing (POCT), and potential explanatory variables, were explored using logistic regression. Results: A total of 8752 participants completed the survey between 2016 and 2018. The survey found 76.7% (n = 3807/4,966) and 71.2% (n = 3529/4,953) of responders with valid responses were in favour of being able to consult with a pharmacist or nurse in their GP surgery, or with a community pharmacist, respectively. It also showed 92.8% (n = 8034/8659) of responders indicated they would be happy to have a finger- prick test to guide antibiotic prescribing, and 31.8% (n = 2746/8646) indicated they would like to be given a BUP if their clinician thought immediate antibiotics were not required. In addition, 47.4% (n = 2342/4944) and 42.3% (n = 2095/4949) were in favour of having video and email consultations, respectively. Characteristics associated with different response options were identified. Conclusion: Consulting with pharmacists, using electronic communication tools, and finger- prick testing are widely acceptable approaches. BUP was described as acceptable less often, and is likely to require greater information and support when used.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalBJGP Open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study received no direct external funding, but was supported by Healthwise Wales, which is funded by the Welsh Assembly Government through Health and Care Research Wales.

Funding Information:
This study was facilitated by HealthWise Wales, the Health and Care Research Wales initiative, which is led by Cardiff University in collaboration with SAIL, Swansea University. We would like to acknowledge the Healthwise Wales team who supported the study (Pauline Ashfield-Watt, Ameeta Richardson, and others), Fiona Lugg-Widger, who helped develop the questionnaire, and the Healthwise Wales study participants.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2021, The Authors


  • antimicrobial resistance
  • bacterial
  • drug resistance
  • primary health care
  • respiratory tract infections


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