Corresponding Author

Kimberly Carney, DVM, MPH


Author Affiliations

Gillespie College of Veterinary Medicine,

Lincoln Memorial University

Harrogate TN

Author Area of Expertise

Kimberly Carney: public health, veterinary medicine

Lauren Wisnieski: epidemiology, statistics

Tristan Lackey: veterinary student

Donald Noah: public/one health, veterinary medicine


Introduction: Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a serious concern to public health, causing an estimated 35,000 deaths annually in the U.S. Misuse of antimicrobials increases the rate of AMR. Self-medication with antibiotics (SMA) is a primary contributor to AMR that can be addressed through education. SMA has been reported at rates of 3% to 66% in the U.S. but has not been evaluated in Appalachia.1 Low health literacy and barriers to accessing care have been correlated with SMA and are common in many areas of Appalachia.

Purpose: This study aims to assess factors associated with SMA, demographic differences in knowledge of / beliefs about SMA, and describe practices and beliefs of those who self-medicate in the Cumberland Gap region.

Methods: Structured interviews were conducted in a rural health clinic and in a dental office to ascertain demographic information, knowledge of appropriate antibiotic use, and behaviors associated with self-medication. Inferential statistics (chi-squared, Fisher’s exact, and ANOVA tests) were conducted.

Results: In the last 3 years, 41% of the 78 respondents had practiced SMA. A higher percentage of those who believed that antibiotics are used to treat viral infections have self-treated compared to those who did not hold that belief. Of those who SMA, convenience was the most common reason, while the common symptoms treated were congestion and fever.

Implications: The current study provides a first estimate of SMA in the Central Appalachian Region and finds the prevalence to be higher than previously reported in other regions of the U.S. Future studies could include larger, more representative samples and longitudinal study designs to confirm these findings.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Recommended Citation

Carney KA, Wisnieski L, Lackey Sommers T, Noah D. Prevalence and factors of self-medication with antibiotics in Claireborne County, Tennessee. J Appalach Health 2023;5(1):59–71. DOI: https://doi.org/10.13023/jah.0501.05.