Using communication in practice

Anthony Carr 1

1 NPS MedicineWise, PO Box 1147 Strawberry Hills, NSW,2012


Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health today.

Using antibiotics for conditions where they have no impact such as on viruses like colds, contributes to the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, in both the community and at an individual level.  But discouraging people from taking them when they actually need them can lead to serious illness or death.  Understanding these clinical intricacies is complex and not easily translated into everyday language.

Similarly wider political and environmental factors such as the role of antibiotics in agriculture and the food chain can and do obscure the need to focus on also changing consumer behaviour.  However, inappropriate prescribing (and usage) is a key factor in driving resistance.  In primary care, patient pressure on GPs has been identified as a key driver for driving inappropriate prescribing.

Against this backdrop NPS Medicinewise have developed a consumer campaign to reduce levels of demand for antibiotics amongst consumers with an ultimate goal of bringing Australian prescribing in line with OECD averages.

Using a spread of communication channels, messages and settings, targeted at multiple audiences, the campaign work has been able to distil a complex clinical problem into everyday language. The impact of this campaign triggered a national debate, elevated the issue to national prominence and generated record levels of media activity.

Celebrity endorsements helped to galvanise an army of 50,000 social media followers to commit to changing their behaviour and have improved comprehension levels in some areas by well over 20%.

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