Planning a Successful Event to Promote Appropriate Antibiotic Use

Purpose of this Document

The purpose of this document is to provide program coordinators guidance in planning successful events to promote appropriate antibiotic use.  This document contains suggestions for planning and implementing small activities as well as large events.

Coming Soon: The 5 Steps of Program Planning

The toolkit divides program planning into 5 steps of which each one is in a separate document for your convenience. The entire document  can be downloaded from the top of this page.

  1. Lay the Foundation: Review past and existing programs, assess needs and resources, and determine clear objectives.
  2. Select activities: Avoid rushing to activities, follow a systematic and evidence-based process to identify and select activities that will effectively meet your objectives.
  3. Plan activities: Turn ideas into actions by establishing clear steps to take you from site selection to post-event follow-up.
  4. Build partnership support for appropriate antibiotic use activities: Expand your partnerships and work with media to support and maximize the reach of your activities.
  5. Evaluate activities: Assess accomplishments and lessons learned so you can build on success and strengthen future activities.

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Upper respiratory infections account for three quarters of all antibiotics prescribed by office-based physicians[1]. If antibiotics were always prescribed appropriately, any associated antibiotic resistance could be seen as inevitable and unavoidable. However, antibiotics are often used inappropriately. Even though prescribing rates have decreased, more than 10 million courses of antibiotics are prescribed each year for viral conditions that do not benefit from antibiotics[2].

In response to rising rates of resistance and inappropriate prescribing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work in 2003. The effort was created for outpatient healthcare providers and parents of young children. In 2017, CDC rebranded their image in order to expand its reach with new resources and messages.

CDC aims to reduce rising rates of antibiotic resistance by:

  1. promoting adherence to appropriate prescribing guidelines among providers;
  2. decreasing demand for antibiotics for viral upper respiratory infections among healthy adults and parents of young children; and
  3. increasing adherence to prescribed antibiotics for upper respiratory infections.

These events provide an opportunity to:

  • Highlight the importance and benefits of appropriate antibiotic use to parents, patients, and healthcare professionals.
  • Revitalize efforts to promote appropriate antibiotic use and to stop the rise of antibiotic resistance.
  • Encourage better patient/parent- healthcare professional communication.
  • Draw attention to the efforts of individual programs by working cohesively.

U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week supports efforts to:

  • Work with state and local health departments and local coalitions to develop and implement a local communication strategy to increase awareness of the importance of appropriate antibiotic use.
  • Create events that attract community and media to increase the number and visibility of national and local media stories on antibiotic resistance.
  • Provide a media hook to interest national and local media in developing feature stories on the importance of appropriate antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance, and equip local planners to work effectively with local experts and media.
  • Recognize local partners and volunteers for efforts to promote appropriate antibiotic use.
  • Create opportunities for local organizations and agencies to work together as coalitions.

This toolkit is designed to facilitate your participation in this national effort. Specifically, it will help you to develop activities and events that:

  • Educate parents and caregivers about the importance of appropriate antibiotic use.
  • Support healthcare providers in efforts to prescribe appropriately.
  • Support pharmacists to educate patients about appropriate antibiotic use and symptomatic therapy.
  • Encourage communication between parents and healthcare professionals about antibiotics.
  • Attract community and media to increase the number and visibility of local media stories on the importance of appropriate antibiotic use for upper respiratory infections.

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Key Messages About Appropriate Antibiotic Use

Long-Term Goal:

Reduce the spread of antibiotic resistance.


  • Increase the knowledge of the general public and modify their attitudes and behaviors regarding appropriate antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance. This includes:
    1. decreasing demand for antibiotics for upper respiratory infections* and urinary tract infections among healthy adults and parents.
    2. increasing adherence to prescribed antibiotics.
  • Decrease unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics for upper respiratory infections.
  • Decrease sharing and saving of previously prescribed antibiotics.
  • Increase adherence to healthy behaviors to prevent acquiring an upper respiratory infection.

*Acute respiratory tract infections include pharyngitis, bronchitis, otitis media, sinusitis, and the common cold.

Key Messages:

  • Antibiotics do not treat viral illnesses like colds and sore throats (except strep throat).
  • Your body will fight viral illnesses that cause most upper respiratory infections.
  • You should only use antibiotics that are prescribed to you by a healthcare provider; always follow the instructions on the label and properly dispose of any leftover medication.
    • Do not share your antibiotics with anyone, not even a family member.
  • The inappropriate use of antibiotics may lead to unnecessary and sometimes dangerous side effects.
  • Each time people take antibiotics, they are more likely to carry resistant germs in their noses and throats. Common antibiotics cannot kill these resistant germs.
    • Good hand hygiene is one of the best ways to keep from getting sick and spreading illnesses.
    • Appropriate antibiotic use can help protect you and your child from adverse events and antibiotic resistance.


  1. Shapiro DJ, Hicks LA, Pavia AT, Hersh AL. Antibiotic prescribing for adults in ambulatory care in the USA, 2007-09. The Journal of antimicrobial chemotherapy. 2014 Jan;69(1):234-40.
  2. McCaig LF. Personal communication, July 10, 2003.
  3. Corbett KK. Susceptibility of youth to tobacco: A social ecological framework for prevention. Respir Physiol. 2001;128:103-118.

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