From thermometers to thermostats: taking control of preventable harm from urinary catheters

Health Innovation Network

This project is under way, and will run until January 2021.

  • Run by the Health Innovation Network, the Academic Health Science Network for South London, in partnership with Revealing Reality, a cultural and behavioural research agency, and Hill+Knowlton Strategies, a public relations consulting company.
  • Project to be carried out at two hospitals in South East London/Kent, and in community settings.
  • Will use behavioural science expertise to enhance the efficacy and scale of a catheter care bundle.
  • Will investigate whether behavioural change interventions can encourage early checking of whether a catheter can be removed.
  • Running for three years from January 2018.

Infections caused by catheters are one of the most common types of health care-associated infections. NHS data show that up to 56% of all hospital urinary tract infections are associated with the presence of an indwelling urinary catheter.

Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) can cause serious harm and are a common cause of bloodstream infections. CAUTIs often occur in people who no longer clinically require a urinary catheter, but for whom the catheter has been left in. This is because systems and processes are not built around the removal of a catheter at the earliest possible opportunity.

The Health Innovation Network (HIN) has worked with 12 NHS trusts in South London to deliver a collaborative quality improvement programme in catheter care. This reduced CAUTIs in the hospitals by 30%. Through this programme, the HIN developed a good practice bundle for effective catheter care. The bundle predominantly appeals to clinicians’ rational decision-making processes.

This Behavioural Insights project will use behavioural science expertise to enhance the efficacy and scale of the catheter care bundle.

A high-quality set of behavioural interventions will be developed, and the impact of implementing these analysed. The project will be implemented in two hospitals and in community settings.

Evidence and practice learning will be shared among health care professionals and decision-makers, and materials will be created to help encourage use of the bundle.

The project aims to use behavioural insights to address the multi-faceted challenge of providing better catheter care, which will ultimately reduce the costs to the health care system associated with unnecessary catheters and associated infections.

Contact details

About this programme


Behavioural Insights Research

This programme offered £1.8 million to eight projects to support research that designs, tests and evaluates behavioural inter...

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