Increasing awareness of bacterial antimicrobial resistance in human beings and veterinary medicine has raised concerns over the issue of overprescribing and the indiscriminate use of antimicrobials. Their use in food-producing animals is under scrutiny due to the perceived risk from the zoonotic transfer of resistant pathogens from animals to human beings. This study used focus groups to explore the drivers and motivators behind antimicrobial use and prescribing by veterinary surgeons and farmers in the pig industry in the UK. Studies of two veterinary and four farmer focus groups were undertaken, each with between three and six participants, in three geographically distinct regions of low, moderate and high pig density in England. Thematic analysis of the focus group transcriptions revealed convergent themes, both within and across, the veterinary and farmer focus groups. Veterinary opinion was such that ‘external pressures’, such as pressure from clients, legislation and public perception, were considered to strongly influence prescribing behaviour, whereas, farmers considered issues surrounding farming systems and management to be greater drivers towards antimicrobial use. Acquiring such in-depth insight into the antimicrobial prescribing behaviours in veterinary medicine provides more detailed understanding of prescribing practice and will aid the development of interventions to promote the responsible use of antimicrobials.
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