Understanding media publics and the antimicrobial resistance crisis

Davis, Mark and Whittaker, Andrea and Lindgren, Mia and Djerf-Pierre, Monika and Manderson, Lenore and Flowers, Paul (2018) Understanding media publics and the antimicrobial resistance crisis. Global Public Health, 13 (9). pp. 1158-1168. ISSN 1744-1706 (https://doi.org/10.1080/17441692.2017.1336248)

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Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) imperils health for people across the world. This enormous challenge is being met with the rationalisation of prescription, dispensing and consumption of antimicrobials in clinical settings and in the everyday lives of members of the general population. Individuals need to be reached outside clinical settings to prepare them for the necessary changes to the pharmaceutical management of infections; efforts that depend on media and communications and, therefore, how the AMR message is mediated, received and applied. In 2016, the UK Review on Antimicrobial Resistance called on governments to support intense, worldwide media activity to promote public awareness and to further efforts to rationalise the use of antimicrobial pharmaceuticals. In this article, we consider this communications challenge in light of contemporary currents of thought on media publics, including: the tendency of health communications to cast experts and lay individuals in opposition; the blaming of individuals who appear to ‘resist’ expert advice; the challenges presented by negative stories of AMR and their circulation in public life, and; the problems of public trust tied to the construction and mediation of expert knowledge on the effective management of AMR.