Seminar report | AMR, getting the right message out there

During my year here at LSHTM I have heard more than once about the problem of communicating antimicrobial resistance to the public. Coming from a medical background, this notion puzzled me a bit at first: what is it in the message that is going wrong? On January 18th, a seminar organised by the AMR Centre entitled “Exploring the microbiosocial- antimicrobial stewardship within diverse communities in Australia”, shed some light on the matter.  Professor Andrea Whittlaker from Monash University explained the recent research she is involved in that aims to understand communication of AMR to the public.

After a brief introduction to the Australian AMR landscape, Prof. Whittlaker posed a couple of questions: Is media part of the problem or solution and are they crucial in transmitting a correct AMR message? As media has a powerful voice, how often and how they help shape the public understanding of AMR is a fascinating question. The role they play in the trust the general public put in “expert opinion” was also an issue raised and one that hit close to home for me. Unfortunately, working in healthcare, the mistrust placed in evidence-based science seems to be of increasing concern and maybe not properly addressed by those who work with patients daily.

The last project presented touched on another angle of this potential miscommunication. Do AMR messages reach culturally and linguistically diverse communities? Most AMR information broadcasted seems to target a specific population. According to Prof. Whittlaker, there might be issues when ethnical and linguistic backgrounds differ from the norm in a region, and even when information is translated, in some languages there isn’t an expression that easily explains antimicrobial resistance.

Did I spark your interest? Professor Whittlaker’s seminar can be seen here where she goes on to describe some findings of her research in Australia and you can find out more about previous research on media messages in AMR.

By Sarah Woodhall, AMR Centre SLO