Nudge vs. superbugs: reducing overprescribing of antibiotics

Nudge vs. superbugs: reducing overprescribing of antibiotics

Domestic Policy Behavioural Economics
Monday, 25 June 2018

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

The release of this report coincides with the opening of the leading international conference on behavioural insights, Behavioural Exchange (BX 2018).

Bringing together leading experts, policy makers, academics and practitioners, BX 2018 is a hub to explore and create new and better policies.

So it is fitting BETA released a report today showcasing how behavioural insights can be applied to a critical public policy issue to improve the lives of Australians.

Nudge vs superbugs: a behavioural economics trial to reduce the overprescribing of antibiotics

The trial, aimed at addressing the risk of antimicrobial resistance from overprescribing of antibiotics was a collaboration between Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, BETA and the Department of Health.

Increasing resistance of bacteria to antibiotics is a serious global health issue. The strongest contributor is antibiotic use, and in Australia our use is high. GPs are important partners in efforts to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions.

BETA and the Department of Health ran a trial to test the impact of personalised letters from Australia’s Chief Medical Officer to high-prescribing GPs prompting them to consider reducing antibiotic prescribing where appropriate and safe. The most effective letter, with a graph comparing GP’s prescribing behaviour to their peers, reduced antibiotic prescription by 12 per cent over six months.