Medication Prescribing

Study Examines Reasons Why Patients Prematurely Stop Antibiotics

Results of a new study show the top reasons why patients stop taking their antibiotic prescriptions prematurely. The study was presented at the American Academy of Physician Assistants 2021 annual meeting.

“A number of factors have been cited in the literature contributing to early patient cessation of antibiotic regimens,” the researchers wrote. “Based upon our small population size, ‘feeling better’ was the most common factor patients stated as to why they did not complete their course of antibiotics. Symptomatic relief accounted for a third of the reasons why patients stopped their antibiotics.”

To conduct their study, the researchers surveyed their patient population. A total of 614 surveys were completed, with 57 being included in the analysis after inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied.

The most common reasons cited by patients included:

  • I felt better.
  • I forgot to take my antibiotic.
  • The duration of the antibiotic course was too long.
  • I wanted to save some antibiotic for future use.


“Health care professionals appear to be providing instructions for these prescriptions but should perhaps emphasize that symptomatic relief is not a reason to prematurely terminate a course of antibiotics,” the researchers wrote.

—Amanda Balbi


Acevedo F, Beier D, Hunter E, Guglielmi T, Roy A. Why do patients prematurely terminate prescribed oral antibiotics? Paper presented at: American Academy of Physician Assistants 2021; May 23-26, 2021; virtual.