Providing antibiotics to immigrants: a qualitative study of general practitioners’ and pharmacists’ experiences

Dominique L.A. Lescure, Wilbert van Oorschot, Rob Brouwer, Janneke van der Velden, Aimée M.L. Tjon-A-Tsien, Iris V. Bonnema, Theo J.M. Verheij, Jan Hendrik Richardus, Hélène A.C.M. Voeten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: If healthcare professionals perceive that patients strongly expect to be prescribed antibiotics, inappropriate prescriptions may result. As it is unknown whether this happens more often with certain patient groups, we explored whether general practitioners (GPs) and pharmacists perceived such expectations when they provided antibiotics to immigrant patients. Methods: Ten GPs and five pharmacists from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, were interviewed on the basis of a semi-structured topic guide. Atlas.ti software was then used to conduct a thematic analysis. Results: GPs felt that immigrant patients, especially those who had arrived recently, were more likely to expect to receive antibiotics than native Dutch patients. However, these expectations had decreased over the last years and did not always lead immigrants to exert pressure on them. Except for language barriers, the factors reported by GPs to influence their antibiotic prescribing behaviour were unrelated to patients’ immigrant background. If there was a language barrier, GPs experienced greater diagnostic uncertainty and needed additional time to obtain and communicate correct information. To overcome language barriers, they often used point-of-care testing to convince patients that antibiotics were unnecessary. Although pharmacists rarely experienced problems dispensing antibiotics to immigrants, they and GPs both struggled to find effective ways of overcoming language barriers, and stressed the need for multi-language support materials. Conclusion: While pharmacists rarely experience any problems providing antibiotics to immigrants, GPs regularly face language barriers with immigrant patients, which complicate the diagnostic process and communicating information in the limited available time. This sometimes leads antibiotics to be prescribed inappropriately.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100
JournalBMC Primary Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) within the framework of the PARCA project (project number 541002001). The researchers were entirely independent in this work.

Publisher Copyright: © 2022, The Author(s).


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