Social Media May Help Decrease Antibiotic Resistance

Facebook and Twitter posts targeted at medical residences could potentially reduce antibiotic resistance.

A recent study suggests that social media sites may be an effective way to educate younger physicians about the proper use of antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs.

As much as 50% of antibiotics are not used properly, which has led to an increasing amount of antibiotic resistant bacterium that can cause life-threatening infections.

Increasing the amount of educational information targeting medical residents about the proper use of these drugs, with a focus on adhering to treatment, is a critical part of improving public health. However, effectively reaching this population has not been a simple task.

According to a study published by the American Journal of Infection Control, social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, are able to provide an effective way to reinforce antimicrobial stewardship programs implemented by hospitals. These platforms can also encourage medical residents to use antimicrobial stewardship program resources to increase education among all internal residents.

In the 6-month long study, 55 medical residents received Facebook and Twitter posts with basic information about antibiotics. These posts promoted educational tools and clinical pathways that were available to the resident through the hospital’s antimicrobial stewardship program’s website.

The individuals also received trivia questions regarding infectious disease and antibiotic knowledge, according to the study. Researchers discovered that knowledge of the antimicrobial stewardship program’s website increased from 70% to 94%.

The residents also demonstrated increased knowledge about antibiotics. The use of clinically relevant pathways increased from 33% to 61% (P= 0.004), according to the study. The CDC has reported that more than 2 million people develop an infection from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and over 23,000 individuals die from the infection.

By increasing knowledge about appropriate antibiotic use, it is likely that the amount of resistant infections and related deaths will plummet. There is also a responsibility for the patients to use the drugs properly.

Another study discovered that many patients self-prescribe antibiotics, which means that they used leftover drugs from a previous prescription or acquired the drugs by another means. These patients were typically using the antibiotics for conditions that would clear up on their own, such as sore throat, runny nose, or cough.

Not only did this study reveal that patients are using drugs that were not prescribed for the current infection, it shows that patients may not be finishing their prescriptions. These factors also lead to antibiotic resistance.

Additional efforts that focus on education for both medical residents and patients are needed to ensure that antibiotic resistance does not continue to spread.