Antibiotic use across Surgical Pathways - Investigating, Redesigning and Evaluating Systems (ASPIRES)

Co-I: Professor Franco Sassi

Funder: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

Duration: May 2017 - March 2022


The care before, during and after surgery (inside and outside of hospital) must include using the right antibiotics at the right time for the correct amount of time, making sure that there are no missed or late doses. The wellbeing of patients including nutrition and ability to move about can also affect how quickly they recover if they do get an infection. To get this care right at each stage, a lot of coordination and communication is needed between all the different health professionals (nurses, surgeons, anaesthetists, pharmacists), patients and carers involved. Because so many key parties are involved in this process, it is an ideal place to do research to understand ways of thinking about the correct use of antibiotics and behaviours such as hand hygiene which can prevent infections from happening in the first place. This study will use social science research to find out what helps individuals, teams and patients to practice safely and use antibiotics in the right way as described above.

The study will research these issues in England and Scotland as they each have different ways of organising and managing surgery. We will also carry out research in countries where there are less resources but they still manage surgery in the same way (India, South Africa and learning from Rwanda). The studies in countries outside of the UK will also tell us how behaviours can be changed when different health professionals are involved, and when antibiotics are less available within hospitals but also available from other sources.

Methods: The study will last four years and will start with an analysis of all factors within and outside of healthcare organisations which may influence how antibiotics are used. The methods we use at the moment to change behaviours of professionals and patients will be evaluated. New methods will also be designed, developed and also evaluated, and may include using new technologies such as computers or smartphones. We may also change the roles and expectations of different professionals within teams or changing the incentives or penalties associated with proper use of antibiotics. Some of these may involve patients and carers taking a more active role.