As a social anthropologist, I’ve been investigating why antibiotics are overused for over a decade and using the insights gained to develop antibiotic stewardship interventions. For World Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Awareness Week, I am writing about three key insights from my research.
1. The role of ‘Explanatory Models’ for illness and treatment: the influence on consulting and prescribing behaviours
Explanatory models are the set of linked ideas or theories that we each have in our minds about an illness and the possible treatments. These inform what we do as a patient, deciding whether to consult, or as a clinician deciding whether to prescribe.
The (simplified) biomedical model for the infections is of two types: viral or bacterial. Antibiotics treat bacterial infections but are ineffective for viral infections. So, it’s simple, no one … Read more
The prevalence of antibiotic use in modern society is well established. Antibiotics have revolutionised medicine and how society sees – and deals with – disease. Along with concerns regarding the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria, thought to be exacerbated by their over-use in many areas, there is a need to understand the history of their adoption and use, especially in primary care. Comprehending the many-tendrilled circumstances and behaviours that led to this point might help to inform future choices, and give some insight into future best practice.
The tests have potential but more evidence is needed.
Given the global concerns(1) about antibiotic resistance, antimicrobial stewardship is essential to preserve the future effectiveness(2) of antibiotics. Healthcare practitioners must balance public and patient health, ensuring that only patients who need antibiotics receive them, and that they receive an antibiotic to which their infection is susceptible, at the optimum time, dose, and duration. Whether to prescribe an antibiotic is a key issue for clinicians treating respiratory infections in the community.
Point-of-care tests provide results in time to inform treatment. For respiratory infections, the tests can identify the presence of a microbe(3-5) or measure markers of a host’s response to a microbe, such as C reactive protein or procalcitonin, in finger prick quantities … Read more
Why do parents seeking evaluation, reassurance and information about their child’s cough end up with antibiotics from their GP? Research fellow Christie Cabral looks at the evidence.
GPs see a lot of children with respiratory tract infections (RTIs), usually presenting with a cough, high temperature or both. RTIs can be distressing and disruptive for children and parents but are mostly viral illnesses that will get better on their own: there is little that a GP can do to treat them.
As any parent knows, children get coughs, colds and ear infections all the time. Symptoms of these respiratory infections – including runny nose, cough and sore throat – can seem never-ending.
In the EEPRIS Study, led by Professor Alastair Hay from the University of Bristol’s Centre for Academic Primary Care, we recruited parents across Bristol to tell us about their children’s respiratory symptoms as they became ill. Gathering information in the community means we are able to find out more about common respiratory illnesses than when we study those who have decided to consult their GP. It also gives us a more accurate picture of how likely parents are to consult for these common illnesses, something which has been surprisingly unclear.
When the NHS turned 70 this year, I was reminded of another anniversary which has had an enormous impact on healthcare over many years. Penicillin is 90 this year.
Discovered in September 1928 by Alexander Fleming, it was first used as a cure when George Paine treated eye infections with it in 1930. A method for mass production was devised by Howard Florey and Ernst Chain in 1940, and it was first mass produced in 1942, with half of that total supply used for one patient being treated for streptococcal septicaemia.
In 1944, 2.3m doses were produced in time for the Normandy landings of World War II. And it was then that the miracle of penicillin became clear. Soldiers who had previously died from septicaemia were surviving.
Expectations rose. If penicillin could cure septicaemia, what … Read more
When I first started researching infectious cough in children, lots of clinicians told me they couldn’t understand why so many parents brought in children who were well enough to turn the consulting room upside down before they even started the examination. As a parent of two young children myself, I had some idea, but as a qualitative researcher, I was keen to get a balanced view.
In the TARGET Programme* we wanted to answer two questions. Given that most coughs will get better on their own:
1) Why do so many parents consult when their child has a cough?
2) Why do so many clinicians prescribe antibiotics for children with coughs?
We conducted five qualitative studies and began to notice common themes, not just across the studies but also shared by parents and clinicians. We found normative beliefs … Read more