Making decisions about antibiotic use in the Australian primary healthcare sector

Lum, Elaine, Graves, Nicholas, Page, Katie, Doust, Jenny, Nissen, Lisa, & Whitty, Jenny (2014) Making decisions about antibiotic use in the Australian primary healthcare sector. In IHBI Annual Postgraduate Student Conference: IHBI Inspires, 20 - 21 November 2014, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.



Australia is contributing to the global problem of antimicrobial resistance with one of the highest rates of antibiotic use amongst OECD countries. Data from the Australian primary healthcare sector suggests unnecessary antibiotics were prescribed for conditions that will resolve without it. If left unchecked, this will result in more resistant micro-organisms, against which antibiotics will be useless.

There is a lack of understanding about what is influencing decisions to use antibiotics – what factors influences general practitioners (GPs) to prescribe antibiotics, consumers to seek antibiotics, and pharmacists to fill old antibiotic prescriptions? It is also not clear how these individuals trade-off between the possible benefits that antibiotics may provide in the immediate/short term, against the longer term societal risk of antimicrobial resistance.


This project will investigate (a) what factors drive decisions to use antibiotics for GPs, pharmacists and consumers, and (b) how these individuals discount the future.

Factors will be gleaned from published literature and from a qualitative phase using semi-structured interviews, to inform the development of Discrete Choice Experiments (DCEs). Three DCEs will be constructed – one for each group of interest – to allow investigation of which factors are more important in influencing (a) GPs to prescribe antibiotics, (b) consumers to seek antibiotics, and (c) pharmacists to fill legally valid but old or repeat prescriptions of antibiotics. Regression analysis will be conducted to understand the relative importance of these factors.

A Time Trade Off exercise will be developed to investigate how these individuals discount the future, and whether GPs and pharmacists display the same extent of discounting the future, as consumers.

Expected Results

Findings from the DCEs will provide an insight into which factors are more important in driving decision making in antibiotic use for GPs, pharmacists and consumers. Findings from the Time Trade Off exercise will show what individuals are willing to trade for preserving the miracle of antibiotics.


The emergence of antibiotic resistance is inevitable. This research will expand on what is currently known about influencing desired behaviour change in antibiotic use, in the fight against antibiotic resistance.

Real World Implications

Research findings will contribute to existing national programs to bring about a reduction in inappropriate use of antibiotic in Australia. Specifically, influencing (1) how key messages and public health campaigns are crafted to increase health literacy, and (2) clinical education and empowerment of GPs and pharmacists to play a more responsive role as stewards of antibiotic use in the community.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 78645
Item Type: Conference Item (Poster)
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Antibiotics, Antimicrobial resistance, Primary healthcare, Decision making
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Clinical Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Elaine Lum
Deposited On: 12 Nov 2014 23:04
Last Modified: 12 Nov 2014 23:04

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