Behavioural research to help reduce antibiotics use in Wales
Dr Emily Holmes, Senior Research Fellow at Bangor University’s School of Health Sciences has been awarded a £352,254 Health Research Fellowship to conduct Antibiotic Research in Wales.
This Fellowship, funded by Welsh Government though Health and Care Research Wales, aims to build capacity in health research by supporting individuals to become independent researchers and to undertake high-quality research projects.
Dr Holmes will be conducting a 5-year research project to explore “The Economics of Rapid Diagnostics to reduce Antibiotic Prescribing in NHS Wales (TRaDe)”. The TRaDe project will gather public and professional opinion on quick and easy tests that can be performed during a clinic appointment (e.g. finger prick) and help to identify whether a patient needs antibiotics. It will assess how peoples’ views and behaviour affect the value (cost effectiveness) of these tests and make recommendations on the best way to organise testing services to reduce antibiotic prescribing in NHS Wales.
A growing number of infections, such as pneumonia, are becoming hard to treat, as the antibiotics used to treat them become less effective. This leads to longer hospital stays, higher medical costs and more people dying. Tackling antimicrobial resistance is a Welsh Government priority. In Wales, approximately 3 in 10 prescriptions dispensed in primary care are for an antibiotic, but over 20% of these may be unnecessary. Reducing unnecessary prescribing is essential but identifying bacterial infection can be challenging. The UK Action Plan to tackle antimicrobial resistance, developed collaboratively with devolved administrations, details an urgent need to support access to rapid diagnostic tests at the point of care (HM Government 2019). By learning more about peoples’ preferences for testing and antibiotic use, we can find out the best way to test while ensuring good value for money for the NHS.
Dr Emily Holmes, said:
“The threat of antibiotic resistance (AMR) is a global health concern. There is an urgent need to support antibiotic decision-making and to do this we need to understand human behaviour. The landscape in which we deliver healthcare and research has changed since the outbreak of covid-19 and there is an increased awareness of the influence of human behaviour on modern medicine. We need detailed evidence on how the behaviour of the patient and the prescriber influences the value of diagnostic tests to reduce antibiotic use in Wales, so we can ensure the best return on investment.”
Prof. Dyfrig Hughes, Co-Director of CHEME, said:
“This Fellowship draws together the Centre’s programmes of research around the influence of human behaviour on medicines use and cost-effectiveness modelling. This Fellowship will generate quality behavioural evidence that together with clinical evidence will help to reduce inappropriate prescribing and contribute towards best use of medicines in Wales.”
Michael Bowdery, Head of Programmes, Health and Care Research Wales, said:
“The standard of applications was very high this year. We are pleased with the diversity of awards we were able to make, all of which will deliver useful evidence across a range of health and social care priority areas. Investing in this research, and the researchers undertaking, will contribute to both health and prosperity in Wales.”
Dr Holmes’ Fellowship will be based in the Pharmaceutical Economics, Policy and Prescribing Research (PEPPER) Group of the Centre for Health Economics and Medicines Evaluation (CHEME), Bangor University. For further information on the TRaDe project, please contact Emily at: email@example.com