National Campaigns to Improve Antibiotic Use

Summary
Results
This paper explores two different case studies where mass campaigns were used to address antibiotic use. Both cases emphasize the importance of understanding the target audience’s knowledge of and attitudes toward antibiotic use in addition to evaluating the potential impact a program may have before proceeding with campaign development and implementation. 
 
The first case comes from Belgium, which in 1998 had the second highest rate of community antibiotic consumption in Europe. In an effort to reduce antibiotic consumption, three campaigns were run over the course of three years with each taking place from November to February. Designed to build off one another, three main complementary messages were developed and promoted during each campaign year. Materials targeting members of the public were delivered via television, radio, posters, brochures, and information folders, while doctors and community pharmacists received personal letters accompanied by campaign materials to share with patients. Pre-and-post campaign interviews and surveys were used to evaluate the effectiveness of the first two campaigns and revealed that in addition to the campaign achieving high visibility, it also shifted opinions in favor of using antibiotics more sparingly. 
 
Case number two comes from France, where levels of antibiotic use and bacterial resistance are among the highest seen in Europe. In 2002, the French national campaign “Keep Antibiotics Working” was launched in an effort to reduce unjustified antibiotic use in both the community and hospital settings, with a specific focus on reducing antibiotic use in children aged 0-6. Members of the public were targeted with written materials and television advertisements while interventions aimed at general physicians included academic detailing, peer-to-peer visits, and encouraging the use of streptococcal rapid diagnostic tests for sore throats. In the hospital setting, the campaign worked to support stricter antibiotic policies, identify anti-infective specialists, and conduct surveys of antibiotic use. Results collected during the campaign showed a 13% reduction in total antibiotic use between 2001-2002 and 2004-2005, in addition to a 19% decrease in the use of antibiotics to treat children under the age of 15.

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