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Open Access Research article

Report on personality and adherence to antibiotic therapy: a population-based study

Malin Axelsson

Author Affiliations

Krefting Research Centre, Institute of Medicine, Internal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden

Department of Nursing, Health and Culture, University West, Trollhättan, Sweden

BMC Psychology 2013, 1:24  doi:10.1186/2050-7283-1-24

Published: 22 November 2013

Abstract

Background

Antimicrobial resistance results from inappropriate use of antibiotics and makes common or life-threatening infections more difficult or sometimes impossible to treat. Proper adherence to antibiotic therapy is one among several measures required to prevent antimicrobial resistance. Knowledge of personality traits could help in identifying patients who need support with their adherence behaviour. Previous research has presented associations between personality traits and adherence to long-term medication treatment in individuals with different chronic diseases. However, there is limited knowledge about associations between personality traits and adherence to both antibiotic therapy and to shorter treatment periods. The aim was to explore the relation between personality and adherence behaviour in people prescribed antibiotics for common infections.

Methods

In a population-based study, 445 respondents reported on their prescribed antibiotic therapy and completed the Neuroticism, Extraversion, and Openness to experience Five-factor Inventory and the Medication Adherence Report Scale. Data were statistically analysed using descriptive statistics, t-tests, bivariate correlations, multiple and logistic regressions.

Results

Non-adherence was estimated to be 9.4%. The most common reasons for stopping therapy prematurely was that the respondent was now healthy and that the respondents experienced side-effects. Non-adherent respondents scored lower on the personality traits Agreeableness and Conscientiousness. A logistic regression showed that higher scores on Agreeableness decreased the risk for non-adherence to antibiotic therapy. In a multiple regression, Neuroticism was identified as a negative predictor, and both Agreeableness and Conscientiousness were identified as positive predictors of adherence behaviour.

Conclusions

Preventive measures to decrease non-adherence may be to inform patients not to interrupt the antibiotic therapy when they start to feel healthy and to inform them about how to prevent and handle common side-effects. As associations between personality and adherence mainly have been described in relation to long-term treatments in chronic diseases, the current study add to the literature by showing that personality traits also seem to be reflected in adherence to shorter treatment periods with antibiotics for common infections. More studies in this specific area of adherence research are recommended.