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The multidisciplinary team of researchers, designers and health professionals is focussed on ‘antibiotic stewardship’: encouraging a more prudent use of antibiotics to preserve their effectiveness for years to come. 

The research and outputs are detailed in a website aimed at professionals and the public: https://pass-antibiotics.github.io

The PASS project is an ESRC-funded multidisciplinary collaboration between the Royal College of Art (RCA) Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design (HHCD), University College London, University of Leicester, University Hospitals Birmingham, Queen Mary University London, Four Seasons Health Care, and NatCen. 

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) means that bacteria that are able to adapt to, and resist the effects of commonly used antibiotics and are popularly known as ‘superbugs’. One such superbug – meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is now present in the community, as well as hospital settings.

PASS explored healthcare settings to better understand where and why antibiotics are being prescribed most, and where there are opportunities to reduce inappropriate prescribing, in an attempt to reduce AMR locally and globally.

Researchers and designers at the HHCD worked as part of the PASS team to develop interventions that support health practitioners’ good stewardship practice to change public perceptions surrounding the use of antibiotics.  

“A series of digital interventions were co-designed with the PASS team and with frontline clinicians.”

Design expertise was included in the team from the outset in order to ensure that there was a continuous thread running from the research directly to the design outputs. The team undertook ethnographic research, interviews, reviews of the literature and epidemiological analysis of electronic health records in order to provide insights into both the context in which prescribing takes place and the pressures that result in overprescribing.

The HHCD ran a series of initial design-led workshops where healthcare teams from GP surgeries, hospitals, care homes and the community identified and defined the barriers to stewardship from their own perspective. These workshops helped to flag considerations that affect the shape, form and content of eventual design work. 

A series of digital interventions were co-designed with the PASS team and with frontline clinicians, and subject to broader critical workshops where they were ranked and refined through a series of iterative design development. The interventions focus on promoting healthcare practitioner behaviours that support good stewardship of antibiotics.

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