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Title: Optimising antibiotic prescribing: Collective approaches to managing a common-pool resource.
Authors: Tarrant, C
Colman, AM
Chattoe-Brown, E
Jenkins, DR
Mehtar, S
Perera, N
Krockow, EM
First Published: 23-Mar-2019
Publisher: Elsevier for European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Citation: Clinical Microbiology and Infection, 2019
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the greatest threats in 21st century medicine. AMR has been characterised as a social dilemma. A familiar version describes the situation in which a collective resource (in this case, antibiotic efficacy) is exhausted due to over-exploitation. The dilemma arises because individuals are motivated to maximise individual payoffs, although the collective outcome is worse if all act in this way. OBJECTIVES: We aim to outline the implications for antimicrobial stewardship of characterising antibiotic overuse as a social dilemma. SOURCES: We conducted a narrative review of the literature on interventions to promote the conservation of resources in social dilemmas. CONTENT: The social dilemma of antibiotic over-use is complicated by the lack of visibility and imminence of AMR, a loose coupling between individual actions and the outcome of AMR, and the agency relationships inherent in the prescriber role. We identify seven strategies for shifting prescriber behaviour and promoting a focus on the collectively desirable outcome of conservation of antibiotic efficacy: (1) establish clearly defined boundaries and access rights; (2) raise the visibility and imminence of the problem; (3) enable collective choice arrangements; (4) conduct behaviour-based monitoring; (5) use social and reputational incentives and sanctions; (6) address misalignment of goals and incentives; and (7) provide conflict resolution mechanisms. IMPLICATIONS: We conclude that this theoretic analysis of antibiotic stewardship could make the problem of optimising antibiotic prescribing more tractable, providing a theory base for intervention development.
DOI Link: 10.1016/j.cmi.2019.03.008
eISSN: 1469-0691
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © the authors, 2019. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Health Sciences

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