From the other perspective: Behavioural factors associated with UK sheep farmers’ attitudes towards antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance
Doidge C. et al. (2021) From the other perspective: Behavioural factors associated with UK sheep farmers’ attitudes towards antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance. PLoS ONE, 16 (5): e0251439.
The aim of this observational study was to categorise sheep farmers based on their attitudes to antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance and then identify the behaviours associated with the farmers in these groups. The study used a subsection of survey data on farmers’ attitudes to antibiotic use, taken from a larger flock health study1 which was carried out at the end of 2017.
There were 461 responses to the survey. A cluster analysis of the responses grouped farmers into two groups based on their ratings of the statements relating to antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance. The ‘discordant’ group (n=226) tended to think that the use of antibiotics for prevention was acceptable and were more likely to have negative views of reducing antibiotic use and the ‘concordant’ group (n=231) were more optimistic about alternatives to antibiotic use and disagreed with using antibiotics for prevention.
The analysis showed that factors significantly associated with belonging to the discordant group included: using antibiotics for disease prevention in all lambs in the previous year; using antibiotics in all ewes in the previous year; not changing worming practices in the past three years; the perception that the farm has not made a financial loss in the past three years; always trimming diseased feet over the past three years, and not using a computer to record information.
Talking to the veterinary surgeon about antibiotic use or the frequency of veterinary visits were not associated with either group.
Limitations of the study include potential bias for respondents to the survey.
The results from this survey provide some evidence that farmers who use more traditional practices are more likely to have attitudes that are discordant with current recommendations on antibiotic use and that habit may play a role in these behaviours. Interventions designed to change behaviour around antibiotic use should therefore be targeted at challenging habitual behaviours.
1Lima, E. et al. (2020) Use of bootstrapped, regularised regression to identify factors associated with lamb-derived revenue on commercial sheep farms. Preventive Veterinary Medicine,174 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.prevetmed.2019.104851
If you found this article of interest, you may be interested in the RCVS Knowledge Farm Vet Champions project: a new initiative to support antimicrobial stewardship in farm animals.
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