Recent migrants' perspectives on antibiotic use and prescribing: a qualitative study

Antje Lindenmeyer, Sabina Redwood, Laura Griffith, Shazia Ahmed, Jennifer Phillimore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
136 Downloads (Pure)


Background: There is currently great interest in antibiotic prescribing practices in the UK; little is known about the experiences of the increasing numbers of migrants registered at GP practices. Qualitative research has suggested that reasons for not prescribing may not be clearly communicated to migrants.
Aim: This article aims to explore the factors which shape migrants’ experiences of and attitudes to antibiotics and suggest ways to improve effective communication around their use.
Design and Setting: A qualitative study on recent migrants’ health beliefs, values and experiences in a community setting.
Method: 23 recent migrants were interviewed in their preferred language by trained Community Researchers with the relevant language and cultural competence. The research team conducted a thematic analysis, focusing on health beliefs, engaging with health services, transnational medicine and concepts of fairness. Experiences around antibiotics were a strong emerging theme.
Results: We found three key reasons for antibiotics seeking: first, holding an ‘infectious model’ of illness implying that antibiotics need to be given quickly to avoid illness becoming worse or spreading to others; second, reasoning that other medications will be less effective for people ‘used to’ antibiotics, and third, perceiving the antibiotic prescription as a sign of being taken seriously. Some participants obtained antibiotics from their country of origin or migrant networks in the UK; others changed their mind and accepted alternatives.
Conclusion: Primary care professionals should aim to understand migrants’ perspectives to improve communication with patients. Further research is needed to identify different strategies needed to respond to different understandings of antibiotics held by migrants.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2016


  • antibacterial agents
  • migrants and transients
  • prescriptions
  • primary health care
  • qualitative research


Dive into the research topics of 'Recent migrants' perspectives on antibiotic use and prescribing: a qualitative study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this