Nudge vs Superbugs: 12 months on

Page last updated: 25 June 2020

The Department of Health, with the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government (BETA) have implemented a behaviourally-informed intervention as part of the Australian Government’s strategy to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR). This report outlines the 12 month findings of a study exploring whether sending General Practitioners (GPs) information about their prescribing would help them to reflect on, and reduce, their antibiotic prescribing where appropriate and safe.

AMR is an increasing concern in Australia and around the world. It occurs when microorganisms, like bacteria, that cause infections resist the effects of the medicines used to treat them, such as antibiotics. One of the key drivers of AMR is antibiotic use. The more we use antibiotics, the more chance bacteria have to develop resistance to them.

Due to the types of illnesses and number of patients that they treat, Australian GPs prescribe more antibiotics than other health professionals in Australia, particularly during the cold and flu season.

General Practitioners can play an important role in efforts to minimise AMR by helping limit community prescribing to only those clinical situations where evidence shows antibiotics to be of proven value.

On 9 June 2017, the Chief Medical Officer of the Australian Government sent letters to 5,300 GPs whose antibiotic prescribing rates were in the top 30 per cent for their geographic region.

The letters aimed to prompt GPs to think about whether there were opportunities in their practice to reduce prescribing where appropriate and safe.

Over a twelve month period, the letters reduced the number of antibiotic prescriptions being filled by around 190,000.

Nudge vs Superbugs: 12 months on - Report (PDF 275 KB)
Nudge vs Superbugs: 12 months on - Report (Word 954 KB)

Nudge vs Superbugs: 12 months on - Infographic (PDF 3525 KB)
Nudge vs Superbugs: 12 months on - Infographic (Word 452 KB)