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Exploring antibiotic use practices in livestock production through a novel, game-based approach

In most countries, over 50% of antibiotics are used in livestock production, with increasing concerns about antimicrobial resistance (AMR) emerging as a result. Pressure is building on governments to intervene to enable farmers to reduce antibiotic use.

In dealing with bacterial disease in livestock, farmers must decide how to use antibiotics. In extreme cases, farmers may choose to administer antibiotics to the whole herd simultaneously. Effective interventions (e.g. policy, education, technology) to reduce such practices should be evidence-based and people-centred. However, the number of case studies demonstrating effective interventions is limited, and the process of evidence-based policy design is slow (e.g. due to farmers’ reluctance to share information). Novel approaches are needed to understand farmers’ antibiotic use practices.

Gamification – using game design features (e.g. goal setting, scoring systems) in a non-gaming context – offers opportunities to understand social processes in novel ways. Policymakers are receptive to gaming approaches because they are a fun way to get people to enter a different headspace, behaving more honestly than they might otherwise (e.g. during meetings, surveys). For example, RAND Europe has successfully used gaming approaches to identify evidence gaps and communication problems between different UK AMR policymakers (Dr Emma Pitchforth, personal communication).

Working with stakeholders (especially farmers in South West England & Wales), this project explores the potential of this innovative approach to investigate antibiotic use practices.

University of Bath
University of Bristol
Cardiff University
University of Exeter