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The University of Southampton
Global Network for Anti-Microbial Resistance and Infection Prevention

Help seeking for antibiotics; is the influence of a personal social network relevant?

Dr Jaimie Ellis, a Research Fellow within the NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care Wessex (CLAHRC) team at the University of Southampton, presented this research at the Global-NAMRIP Festival of Early Career Research on 25 June 2019. The poster can be downloaded by following the 'Useful Downloads' link below.

Dr Jaimie Ellis poster
Dr Jaimie Ellis poster

Background: Health policy focuses on reducing antibiotic prescribing that in order to succeed requires the public to hold similar attitudes towards judicious use. Social network influences on health behaviour and attitudes are well established and yet are not sufficiently acknowledged in the antibiotic stewardship programmes. The aim of this study was to evaluate individuals’ attitudes and behaviours towards antibiotics and identify the social network influences on these in the process of help seeking for self-limiting illnesses.

Methods: Interview with a personal community mapping exercise. A purposive sample was recruited via GP practices and pharmacist.

Diverse network
Diverse network

Results: Three network types were identified; diverse, family and friend and restricted. The type of network an individual has appears to influence antibiotic attitudes and behaviours. Most notably, the more diverse a network the more likely the individual will delay in help seeking from professionals as they draw upon self-care strategies advised by network members. The role of the GP varies according to network type too. Individuals’ with diverse networks draw upon GPs to provide clarity following a period of self-care. People with restricted networks are more reliant upon the GP and seek help quicker.  

Conclusion: The understanding a social network approach brings to help seeking behaviour for antibiotics could help practitioners modify their consultation approach to mitigate some uncertainties around prescribing behaviour.

View the full paper 'Help seeking for antibiotics; is the influence of a personal social network relevant?'.

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