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Arch Intern Med. 2004 Jul 12;164(13):1451-6.

A survey of knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of house staff physicians from various specialties concerning antimicrobial use and resistance.

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Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga. 30333, USA.



Examination of knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of house staff physicians will be important in developing interventions to improve antimicrobial use and prevent resistance.


A 75-item survey was distributed to house staff physicians on nonpediatric services in a university teaching hospital. Knowledge was assessed with a 10-question quiz.


The survey was completed by 179 (67%) of 269 house staff physicians on 5 specialties. Outside and inside the intensive care unit, 21% and 25% of respondents, respectively, reported that they were using antibiotics optimally. Surgeons were significantly more likely than other physicians to report that they were regularly seeking input into antimicrobial selections (P<.001). Of the 170 physicians who completed the survey, 88% agreed antibiotics are overused in general and 72% also agreed this was the case at their institution (r = 0.56; P<.05); 96% agreed that hospitals in general face serious problems with antibiotic resistance and 93% agreed that their hospital faces these same problems (r = 0.57; P<.05); 97% agreed that better use of antibiotics would reduce resistance; 32% stated that they had not had formal teaching on antimicrobial agents in the last year (medicine residents reported significantly more formal teaching than others [P =.001]); and 90% wanted more education about antimicrobials and 67% wanted more feedback on antimicrobial selections. The mean antimicrobial quiz score was 28%, with medicine residents scoring significantly higher than others (P =.04). Upper-level residents did not perform better than interns.


This survey (1) revealed that house staff are aware of the importance of antimicrobial resistance and believe better antimicrobial use will help this problem and (2) demonstrated differences between specialties with respect to antimicrobial use and knowledge. House staff at our hospital have suboptimal knowledge about antimicrobials, and this knowledge did not increase appreciably over the course of their training. Antimicrobial education is needed and is likely to be well received by house staff physicians in academic centers but may be more effective if it is tailored to specific specialties.

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