A scoping review and behavioural analysis of factors underlying overuse of antimicrobials

May 8, 2023

JAC-Antimicrobial Resistance, Vol. 5, Issue 3, June 2023, dlad043

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Overuse of antimicrobials is a challenging global issue that contributes to antimicrobial resistance. Despite widespread awareness of the problem among members of the medical community and various attempts to improve prescription practices, existing antimicrobial stewardship programmes are not always effective. In our view, this may reflect limited understanding of factors that influence prescription of antimicrobials as empirical therapy, implying a need to address the psychological mechanisms behind some of the specific behaviours involved.


To identify factors that influence the antimicrobials prescription as empirical therapy, and to relate these factors to findings from behavioural science.


We conducted a scoping review of the literature on the factors underlying antimicrobial prescription decisions, following the protocol designed using PRISMA guidelines.

Results and conclusions

From a final sample of 90 sources, we identified ten factors important in antimicrobial prescription decisions. In the second stage of our analysis, we grouped them into five final categories: (1) nature of the decision, (2) social influences, (3) individual differences, (4) characteristics of the patient, (5) context. We analyse these categories using a behavioural science perspective.