Bringing antibiotics from overseas and self-medication amongst Australian Chinese migrants

Zhiqiang Wang, Jie Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Antibiotics are freely available for purchase without a prescription in some countries. Migrants travelling from and to their home countries may bring along medicines for future use. This study aimed to investigate the practice of bringing antibiotics from outside Australia amongst Chinese migrants and to assess the association between bringing antibiotics and selfmedication with antibiotics in this group.

Methods: Chinese migrants who have been residing in Australia longer than three months were recruited through several Chinese social websites to complete an online bilingual health survey. Multiple logistic regressions were performed to assess the associations between bringing antibiotics into Australia and self-medication with antibiotics.

Out of 469 Chinese migrants, 148 (32%) admitted that they had brought antibiotics into Australia during their latest trip to China or other countries. The practice of bringing antibiotics into Australia was not associated with most of the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics except education level and the main language spoken at home. Over sixty percent of who brought antibiotics believed they could treat the disease with previous experience. More than half of them perceived it may be expensive to consult a doctor in Australia. Furthermore, the practice of bringing in antibiotics from overseas was significantly associated with self-medication of antibiotics among Australian Chinese migrants (adjusted OR: 4.5, 95% CI: 2.6-7.8).

Although antibiotic sales are well regulated in Australia, many Chinese migrants bring in antibiotics from outside Australia which increases the risk of self-medication. Our findings support that antibiotics crossing the border should be better regulated in Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalThe Internet Journal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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