Differences in antibiotic knowledge and attitudes between parents of Medicaid-insured and commercially insured children have been previously reported. It is unknown whether understanding has improved and whether previously identified differences persist.


A total of 1500 Massachusetts parents with a child <6 years old insured by a Medicaid managed care or commercial health plan were surveyed in spring 2013. We examined antibiotic-related knowledge and attitudes by using χ2 tests. Multivariable modeling was used to assess current sociodemographic predictors of knowledge and evaluate changes in predictors from a similar survey in 2000.


Medicaid-insured parents in 2013 (n = 345) were younger, were less likely to be white, and had less education than those commercially insured (n = 353), P < .01. Fewer Medicaid-insured parents answered questions correctly except for one related to bronchitis, for which there was no difference (15% Medicaid vs 16% commercial, P < .66). More parents understood that green nasal discharge did not require antibiotics in 2013 compared with 2000, but this increase was smaller among Medicaid-insured (32% vs 22% P = .02) than commercially insured (49% vs 23%, P < .01) parents. Medicaid-insured parents were more likely to request unnecessary antibiotics in 2013 (P < .01). Multivariable models for predictors of knowledge or attitudes demonstrated complex relationships between insurance status and sociodemographic variables.


Misconceptions about antibiotic use persist and continue to be more prevalent among parents of Medicaid-insured children. Improvement in understanding has been more pronounced in more advantaged populations. Tailored efforts for socioeconomically disadvantaged populations remain warranted to decrease parental drivers of unnecessary antibiotic prescribing.

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