RAI project breaks new ground: for the first time ever medicine specialists have been joined by experts in design and communication.

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Rational Use of Antibiotics via Information and Communication (RAI) is a network project, aimed at developing tailored information and communication tools on the subject of antibiotic resistance. Charité’s RAI efforts are led by Prof. Dr. Petra Gastmeier, head of the Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine, and keynote speaker at the Second Semmelweis CEE Conference on March 7th and 8th, 2017 in Budapest. We asked her about a recently published survey made in connection with the RAI project.

The RAI group project breaks new ground in the sense that, for the first time ever specialists from human and veterinary medicine have been joined by experts in design and communication. Their aim is to develop innovative information and communication strategies on the responsible use of antibiotics.
To gain insights into the knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of people in connection with antibiotic resistance, the RAI experts decided to make a survey in the project-preparation phase, addressing the German general population. The authors of the recently published study found considerable knowledge gaps – for example only 24 percent of the participants knew that bacteria (but not viruses or humans) could develop antibiotic resistance.
„A starting point for an intervention could be the patient-physician communication. This seems more effective and safer than a public campaign“, says Gastmeier. The main problem of physicians: “They don’t have enough time to explain the patient why antibiotics in their particular case do not help. That’s why we have developed materials that support physicians in their daily routine work. The material demonstrates in a clear and straightforward manner the difference between bacteria and viruses, and why antibiotics only help in case of bacterial infection”, says Gastmeier, mentioning another important aspect in this context: “We developed material, that explain different methods of symptomatic therapy, that can be alternatively performed in order to avoid that the patient has to go home with empty hands”, says Gastmeier. The first results of the RAI measures will be expected in 2018.

RAI pilot project
The pilot project ‘Rational use of antibiotics through information and communication (RAI) is one of the fundamental research endeavours of the infection control consortium ‘InfectControl 2020’, and forms part of the “Zwanzig20 – Partnerschaft für Innovation” funding program of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The aim of ‘InfectControl 2020’ is to develop, validate and implement new strategies aimed at helping in the fight against infections (www.infectcontrol.de).

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Carola Timmel is journalist for print and radio and professional speaker. Her focus lies on the topic Medicine & Health.

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