This project is under way, and will run until February 2022.

  • Run by the University of Warwick.
  • Will work with six NHS organisations in England: three primary care and three secondary care.
  • Aims to use behavioural insights methods to optimise health care workers’ medication prescribing and use choices, improve understanding of patient experience, and prioritise medication safety.
  • Will identify common reasons for sub-optimal prescribing and use, and utilise light-touch, low-cost interventions to achieve improvements.
  • Will run from February 2019 for three years.

Medication optimisation is about ensuring the right patient gets the right choice of medicine at the right time. Sub-optimal medication prescribing and use affects patient wellbeing and is costly to the NHS. In primary care, medication waste costs around £300 million a year, and in secondary care, adverse drug reactions cost up to £466 million a year.

This project by the University of Warwick aims to promote medication optimisation through a collaborative approach. It will work to improve the four medication optimisation challenges set out by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society: understanding patient experience; using evidence to guide medication choices; ensuring medications are used safely; and making medication optimisation part of routine practice.

The project team will identify and work with six NHS organisations (three primary care; three secondary care) to decide which medication barriers to intervene upon, and which behaviours to target. They will then co-design behavioural insights interventions to overcome the identified barriers, and develop protocols to assess the effect of these interventions.

The team will look at what the most common reasons for sub-optimal medication use are, and look at the groups of behaviours associated with these, for example selecting new medications and discontinuing previous medications. The aim is then to improve these behavioural outcomes using light-touch, low-cost interventions, i.e. ‘nudges’.

Information will be gathered to help understand the prescribers’ experiences with the interventions, using surveys and interviews. Their stories will be used to inspire other organisations to take up effective interventions to improve medication prescribing and use.

Contact details

About this programme


Behavioural Insights Research


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