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Managing sustainable use of antibiotics-the role of trust

Journal article
Authors Felicia Robertson
Sverker C. Jagers
Björn Rönnerstrand
Published in Sustainability
Volume 10
Issue 1
ISSN 2071-1050
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Political Science
Centre for antibiotic resistance research, CARe
Language en
Keywords Antibiotic resistance, Antibiotics, Cooperation, Large-scale collective action, Sweden, Trust, collective action, knowledge, management practice, survey design, sustainability
Subject categories Public Administration Studies


Human overuse of antibiotics is the main driver of antibiotic resistance. Thus, more knowledge about factors that promote sustainable antibiotic use is urgently needed. Based upon findings from the management of other sustainability and collective action dilemmas, we hypothesize that interpersonal trust is crucial for people's propensity to cooperate for the common objective. The aim of this article is to further our understanding of people's antibiotic consumption by investigating if individuals' willingness to voluntarily abstain from antibiotic use is linked to interpersonal trust. To fulfill the aim, we implement two empirical investigations. In the first part, we use cross-section survey data to investigate the link between interpersonal trust and willingness to abstain from using antibiotics. The second part is based on a survey experiment in which we study the indirect effect of trust on willingness to abstain from using antibiotics by experimentally manipulating the proclaimed trustworthiness of other people to abstain from antibiotics. We find that interpersonal trust is linked to abstemiousness, also when controlling for potential confounders. The survey experiment demonstrates that trustworthiness stimulates individuals to abstain from using antibiotics. In conclusion, trust is an important asset for preserving effective antibiotics for future generations, as well as for reaching many of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. © 2018 by the authors.

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