Academic journal article Visible Language

Targeted Communication to Reduce Antibiotic Prescription

Academic journal article Visible Language

Targeted Communication to Reduce Antibiotic Prescription

Article excerpt


This paper reports a commissioned project to design targeted communication materials to attempt to reduce antibiotoc prescription rates.


targeted communication, antibiotic prescription

In April 2014, the World Health Organization published a report entitled "Antimicrobial resistance: Global Report on Surveillance measures" in which studies of the data from 114 countries suggest that bacteria strains worldwide are becoming increasingly insensitive to one or more common types of antibiotics. The use of so-called broad-spectrum antibiotics is particularly associated with the development of antimicrobial resistance. Additionally, antibiotic therapy is ineffective for more than 80 percent of straightforward respiratory infections, with such treatment having potentially negative side effects such as a shift in the balance of microorganisms in the intestine. (WHO, 2014)

Around the same time of the WHO report, the Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine of the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin approached Lindgrün GmbH in spring of 2014 to develop communication material aimed at creating a more meaningful use of antibiotics and, specifically, attempting to reduce the prescription of antibiotics for upper-respiratory infections in Berlin, Germany. This forms part of an overall antibiotic intervention project running from September 2014 to March 2015. Key participants include Professor Dr. Petra Gastmeier, the Director of the Institute, Dr. Janine Zweigner, and Dr. Miriam Wiese-Posselt. The wide scope of the assignment demanded a period in which we tackled each of our research and analysis goals in order to create a convincing, targeted message. What was crucial to this phase was getting a grip on the possible reasons contributing to the rise of antibiotic resistance. From there, we translated our findings into design proposals that formed the core of the task and summoned our expertise in strategic design. Working closely with the client, we moved into the phase of actively supporting the pilot project, which is still currently underway and yielding some very positive but, so far, limited feedback.

We began our research with a review of several extant European campaigns focusing on antibiotic intervention strategies. The different approaches range in tone and target audience, as well as the quality and quantity of presented information. Most studies have been conducted outside of Germany, yet no publication gives insight into the design process behind the choice of visual communication, or explains how the actual socio-geographic frameworks are structured. We could find no examples of storytelling, positive deviance, user journeys, narrative interviews, or evidence of target groups beyond patients and general practitioners mentioned in the available research papers. Nor did we find information on communication strategies or implementation plans, which we see as a significant problem in medical-related scientific information when it concerns communication and design.

We were able to isolate many factors contributing to the overall positive and negative effects of some of the campaigns. Among them, it appears that the most successful are those that are multimodal and that make clear, relevant statements addressing the differing perspectives of both patient and GP target groups. Less effective are those that use media for its own sake, offer too complex a message, or create a gap in the perceived and actual relevance of the issues to these audiences.

This desktop research was presented to the client with findings, isolating several factors we felt aimed at a high likelihood of the project's success. From the examples we looked at, a complete, structured experience of the topic using few but high-quality media and separate, relevant statements to doctor and patient appeared to work best.

But there was more research to be done, and we were able to convince our client to allow the freedom to embark on our own modest but qualified local research. …

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