Patient knowledge and antibiotic abuse: Evidence from an audit study in China

Janet Currie, Wanchuan Lin, Wei Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


We conduct an audit study in which a pair of simulated patients with identical flu-like complaints visits the same physician. Simulated patient A is instructed to ask a question that showcases his/her knowledge of appropriate antibiotic use, whereas patient B is instructed to say nothing beyond describing his/her symptoms. We find that a patient who displays knowledge of appropriate antibiotics use reduces both antibiotic prescription rates and drug expenditures. Such knowledge also increases physicians' information provision about possible side effects, but has a negative impact on the quality of the physician-patient interactions. Our results suggest that antibiotics abuse in China is not driven by patients actively demanding antibiotics, but is largely a supply-side phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)933-949
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Health Economics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy


  • Antibiotics
  • China
  • Physician
  • Prescription


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