Co-developing an antibiotic stewardship tool for dentistry: shared decision-making for adults with toothache or infection.

Wendy Thompson, Jonathan Sandoe, Sue Pavitt, Tanya Walsh, Lucie Byrne-Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dentistry is responsible for around 10% of antibiotic prescribing across global healthcare, with up to 80% representing inappropriate use. Facilitating shared decision-making has been shown to optimise antibiotic prescribing (antibiotic stewardship) in primary medical care. Our aim was to co-develop a shared decision-making antibiotic stewardship tool for dentistry. Dentists, patients and other stakeholders prioritized factors to include in the new tool, based on previous research (a systematic review and ethnographic study) about dentists’ decision-making during urgent appointments. Candidate behaviour change techniques were identified using the Behaviour Change Wheel and selected based on suitability for a shared decision-making approach. A ‘think aloud’ study helped fine-tune the tool design and Crystal Marking ensured clarity of messaging. The resulting paper-based worksheet for use at point-of-care incorporated various behaviour change techniques, such as: ’information about (and salience of) health consequences’, ‘prompts and cues’, ‘restructuring the physical (and social) environment’ and ‘credible sources’. The think aloud study confirmed the tool’s acceptability to dentists and patients, and resulted in the title: ‘Step-by-step guide to fixing your toothache.’ Further testing will be necessary to evaluate its efficacy at safely reducing dental antibiotic prescribing during urgent dental appointments in England and, with translation, to other dental contexts globally.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1345
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2021


  • Antibiotics
  • Dental
  • Decision-making
  • Antimicrobial stewardship
  • Co-development
  • Healthcare
  • Complex intervention


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