Preserving the protective power of antibiotics

The Challenge

How can we nudge patients and health workers to stop misusing antibiotics?

The Context

The inability of antibiotics to fight infections (Antimicrobial resistance, or AMR) is one of the greatest public health challenges of our time. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) makes standard treatments ineffective, and can cause serious infections to persist and spread to others.  

Antimicrobial resistance is complicated stuff, but not really in the way you’d imagine. For the World Health Organization, the science of AMR is clear. What’s more challenging for them is figuring out how to get the people part right.  They asked us if we could help them break down the process of behaviour change into really simple steps for their staff. 


Experience Design





On our current course, reducing the efficacy of antibiotics may cost the world 10 million deaths per year, and US$ 100 trillion, by 2050. 

What We Heard

At its core, the solution to preventing antimicrobial resistance is behavioral. It requires health workers, doctors and pharmacists to stop overprescribing antibiotics, and patients and the general public to stop misusing them. This “Antimicrobial stewardship” approach puts clinicians at the centre, responsible for modeling good behaviour and educating patients.

To reduce the pace of AMR, it’s important to understand where AMR is a large problem, among which population groups, and what’s currently preventing all actors from using antibiotics appropriately. 

WHO know they need to move fast to get ahead of this challenge. They wanted to transform an existing behavioural manual into something more practical, a short, and well-designed tool to help them get to the root of the problem quickly. 

Our Solution

We assembled a Common Thread team of communication specialists, graphic designers and public health professionals, and got to work on a Quick Guide and Playbook.

The Quick Guide is a ‘how-to’ for rapid and practical application of behavioral science to encourage the behaviors that can prevent and stop antimicrobial resistance. The accompanying Playbook offered up practical tools and templates for each step of process. Making the guide practical, easy to ready and visual will better support countries to prioritize and adapt their AMR approach to meet their needs.

See the tool ›

We can do great things together.