How can behavioural science contribute to qualitative research on antimicrobial stewardship in primary care?
Borek AJ., Santillo M., Wanat M., Butler CC., Tonkin-Crine S.
Abstract Antibiotic use (and misuse) accelerates antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and addressing this complex problem necessitates behaviour change related to infection prevention and management and to antibiotic prescribing and use. As most antibiotic courses are prescribed in primary care, a key focus of antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) is on changing behaviours outside of hospital. Behavioural science draws on behaviour change theories, techniques and methods developed in health psychology, and can be used to help understand and change behaviours related to AMR/AMS. Qualitative methodologies can be used together with a behavioural science approach to explore influences on behaviour and develop and evaluate behavioural interventions. This paper provides an overview of how the behavioural science approach, together with qualitative methods, can contribute and add value to AMS projects. First, it introduces and explains the relevance of the behavioural science approach to AMR/AMS. Second, it provides an overview of behaviour change ‘tools’: behaviour change theories/models, behavioural determinants and behaviour change techniques. Third, it explains how behavioural methods can be used to: (i) define a clinical problem in behavioural terms and identify behavioural influences; (ii) develop and implement behavioural AMS interventions; and (iii) evaluate them. These are illustrated with examples of using qualitative methods in AMS studies in primary care. Finally, the paper concludes by summarizing the main contributions of taking the behavioural science approach to qualitative AMS research in primary care and discussing the key implications and future directions for research and practice.