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ABSTRACT OF THE WEEK

Antibiotics.

'Brave Enough': A Qualitative Study of Veterinary Decisions to Withhold or Delay Antimicrobial Treatment in Pets.

Antibiotics (Basel). March 2023;12(3):.
Ri O Scarborough1, Anna E Sri2, Glenn F Browning3, Laura Y Hardefeldt4, Kirsten E Bailey5
1 Asia-Pacific Centre for Animal Health, Melbourne Veterinary School, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia.; 2 Asia-Pacific Centre for Animal Health, Melbourne Veterinary School, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia.; 3 Asia-Pacific Centre for Animal Health, Melbourne Veterinary School, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia.; 4 Asia-Pacific Centre for Animal Health, Melbourne Veterinary School, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia.; 5 Asia-Pacific Centre for Animal Health, Melbourne Veterinary School, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia.

Abstract

Veterinarians sometimes prescribe antimicrobials even when they know or suspect that they are unnecessary. The drivers of this behaviour must be understood to design effective antimicrobial stewardship interventions. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 22 veterinarians who treated companion animals in Australia. The Theory of Planned Behaviour was used to organise interview themes, focusing on a decision to withhold antimicrobial therapy in the absence of a clear indication. Many background factors influenced antimicrobial-withholding decisions, including the veterinarian's communication skills, general attitudes towards antimicrobial resistance (AMR), habits and energy levels. Client awareness of AMR and the veterinarian-client relationship were also important. Beliefs about the consequences of withholding antimicrobials (behavioural beliefs) were dominated by fears of the animal's condition deteriorating and of failing to meet client expectations. These fears, weighed against the seemingly distant consequences of AMR, were major barriers to withholding antimicrobials. Normative beliefs were primarily focused on the expected approval (or disapproval) of the client and of other veterinarians. Control beliefs about the difficulty of withholding antimicrobials centred around client factors, most importantly, their capacity to adequately monitor their animal, to pay for further investigations, or to undertake non-antimicrobial management, such as wound care, at home. The use of antimicrobials by companion animal veterinarians in the absence of a clear indication is often powerfully driven by behavioural beliefs, chiefly, fears of clinical deterioration and of failing to meet client expectations.

Keywords
One Health; TPB; animal; antibiotic; barriers; behaviour; enablers; prescribing; resistance; stewardship;

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