'The body gets used to them'

July 2012

Paper published exploring patients’ interpretations of ‘antibiotic resistance’

Professor Chris Butler and colleagues have had a paper published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

The team interviewed 121 adult patients from primary care research networks based in nine European countries who had recently consulted a primary care clinician with symptoms of Lower Respiratory Tract Infection (LRTI).

The results showed that whilst most patients were aware of the link between antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance, the majority misinterpreted antibiotic resistance as a property of the human body rather than bacterial cells. Consequently, this has the potential to inform clearer clinician–patient discussions and public health interventions through emphasising the transferability of resistance, and the societal contribution individuals can make through more appropriate antibiotic prescribing and use.

The paper also attracted an editorial piece in the journal citing the 'stimulating conceptual and methodological insights into lay interpretations of antibiotic resistance' within the paper. It also highlighted the importance of further qualitative work like that conducted by the team to probe more deeply the sense-making process that consumers use to reach these conclusions so that communication initiatives can more effectively counteract flawed assumptions.

Access to the full article can be obtained here.

The editorial, entitled 'Communication and Behavior Change Challenges to Limiting the Development of Antibiotic Resistance' can be found here.