Empowering patients to self-manage common infections: Qualitative study informing the development of an evidence-based patient information leaflet

Catherine V. Hayes*, Bláthnaid Mahon, Eirwen Sides, Rosie Allison, Donna M. Lecky, Cliodna A.M. McNulty

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
140 Downloads (Pure)


Common self-limiting infections can be self-managed by patients, potentially reducing consultations and unnecessary antibiotic use. This qualitative study informed by the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) aimed to explore healthcare professionals’ (HCPs) and patients’ needs on provision of self-care and safety-netting advice for common infections. Twenty-seven patients and seven HCPs participated in semi-structured focus groups (FGs) and interviews. An information leaflet was iteratively developed and reviewed by participants in interviews and FGs, and an additional 5 HCPs, and 25 patients (identifying from minority ethnic groups) via online questionnaires. Qualitative data were analysed thematically, double-coded, and mapped to the TDF. Participants required information on symptom duration, safety netting, self-care, and antibiotics. Patients felt confident to self-care and were averse to consulting with HCPs unnecessarily but struggled to assess symptom severity. Patients reported seeking help for children or elderly dependents earlier. HCPs’ concerns included patients’ attitudes and a lack of available monitoring of advice given to patients. Participants believed community pharmacy should be the first place that patients seek advice on common infections. The patient information leaflet on common infections should be used in primary care and community pharmacy to support patients to self-manage symptoms and determine when further help is required.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1113
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding information: This research received no external funding.

Open Access: This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

Publisher Copyright: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel,

Citation: Hayes, C.V.; Mahon, B.; Sides, E.; Allison, R.; Lecky, D.M.; McNulty, C.A.M. Empowering Patients to Self-Manage Common Infections: Qualitative Study Informing the Development of an Evidence-Based Patient Information Leaflet. Antibiotics 2021, 10, 1113.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/antibiotics10091113


  • Antibiotics
  • Behavioural science
  • Community pharmacy
  • General practice
  • Patient attitudes
  • Primary healthcare
  • Qualitative study
  • Questionnaire
  • Self-care


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