Knowledge and attitudes of adolescents towards the human microbiome and antibiotic resistance: a qualitative study
Background Antibiotic and dietary behaviour affect the human microbiome and influence antibiotic resistance development. Adolescents are a key demographic for influencing knowledge and behaviour change. Objectives To explore adolescents' knowledge and attitudes towards the microbiome and antibiotic resistance, and the capability, motivation and opportunity for educators to integrate microbiome teaching in schools. Methods Qualitative study informed by the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) and
... Framework (TDF) and COM-B model. Six educational establishments were purposively selected by rural/city and socioeconomic status, within Gloucestershire, South West England in 2019. Forty 14–18-year olds participated in focus groups, and eight science or health educators participated in interviews. Data were analysed thematically, double-coded and mapped to the TDF/COM-B. Results Adolescents were aware of 'good microbes' in the body but lacked deeper knowledge. Adolescents' knowledge of, and intentions to use, antibiotics appropriately differed by their levels of scientific study. Adolescents lacked knowledge on the consequences of diet on the microbiome, and therefore lacked capability and motivation to change behaviour. Educators felt capable and motivated to teach microbiome topics but lacked opportunity though absence of topics in the national curriculum and lack of time to teach additional topics. Conclusions A disparity in knowledge of adolescents needs to be addressed through increasing antibiotic and microbiome topics in the national curriculum. Public antibiotic campaigns could include communication about the microbiome to increase awareness. Educational resources could motivate adolescents and improve their knowledge, skills and opportunity to improve diet and antibiotic use; so, supporting the UK antimicrobial resistance (AMR) national action plan.