Tertiary hospitals physician’s knowledge and perceptions towards antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance in Cameroon

Background Infections due to resistant bacteria are associated with severe illness, increased risk for complications, hospital admissions, and higher mortality. Inappropriate use of antibiotics, which contributes to increased antibiotic resistance (ABR), is common in healthcare settings across the globe. In Cameroon, antibiotics have been reported as high as 45–70% of prescriptions. We sought to investigate the knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions regarding appropriate antibiotic use and ABR of medical doctors practicing in tertiary hospitals in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Methods We conducted a cross-sectional survey using a 54-item self-administered questionnaire sent via email to medical doctors working in the four major tertiary hospitals of Yaoundé. The questionnaire recorded socio-demographics, perceptions on antibiotic use and ABR, sources and usefulness of education on ABR, and clinical scenarios to appraise knowledge. Results A total of 98/206 (48%) doctors responded. Years of experience ranged between 1 and 17 years. Most participants agreed that ABR is a problem nationwide (93%) and antibiotics are overused (96%), but only one third (32%) thought that ABR was a problem in their wards. Most respondents (65%) were confident that they use antibiotics appropriately. We found a mean knowledge score of 56% (± 14), with prescribers not influenced by patient-exerted pressure for antibiotic prescribing scoring better compared to those influenced by patients (67% vs 53%, p = 0.01). Overall, most participants (99%) expressed interest for further education on both appropriate antibiotic use and ABR. Conclusion Confidence of prescribers in their ability to appropriately use antibiotics conflicts with the low level of knowledge on antibiotic use in this group of doctors. Moreover, the opinion of the majority, that ABR is not a problem in their own backyard is in keeping with similar studies in other countries and is of significant concern. Introduction of formal antibiotic stewardship programmes in Cameroon may be a useful intervention.