Researcher awarded grant to explore the international impact of attempts to change how antibiotics are prescribed

A researcher from our University has been awarded a prestigious Research Councils grant to study antimicrobial resistance (AMR) from a new perspective.

Dr Carolyn Tarrant (pictured), Associate Professor and co-lead of the SAPPHIRE research group is the recipient of a £250,000 award from the Research Councils’ Tackling AMR initiative, which will fund a two year collaborative project between researchers and clinicians, commencing in January 2017.

The project will explore attitudes to prescribing antibiotics in England, Sri Lanka, and South Africa and study the impact of local and national context on various attempts to change the ways antibiotics are prescribed.

Dr Carolyn Tarrant said: “The project is an exciting opportunity to apply established social sciences theories and modelling approaches to a problem that has global significance. Along with my colleagues in Leicester I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with colleagues in lower income countries and contribute to capacity building in research overseas.”

Modern medicine depends utterly on effective antibiotics for the treatment and prevention of infection, but this use of antibiotics simultaneously drives the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance.

The global spread of resistance seems inevitable, with potentially devastating consequences for humanity.

An important aspect of this problem is the tension between doctors’ responsibilities to individual patients, and their duty to society to reduce the risk of anti-microbial resistance by avoiding over-prescribing.

Antibiotic prescribing is a classic case of a ‘social dilemma’ in which the good of individuals can be in tension with the good of society.

This project will use psychological theories of social dilemmas to investigate how prescribing decisions are shaped by this tension, and by external pressures, incentives and restrictions, in different cultural contexts.