Building the Australian response to the "superbugs" crisis
This project aims to investigate the public’s engagement with communications and media on antimicrobial resistance, examine their trust in expert knowledge and study the enactment of advice regarding antimicrobial drugs in everyday life.
Project team: Mark Davis (project leader), Monash University, Australia; Prof Monika Djerf-Pierre University of Gothenburg (JMG/CARe) and Monash University; Prof Andrea Whittaker, Monash University, Prof Mia Lindgren Monash University, Prof Paul Flowers, Glasgow Caledonian University
Supported by the Australian Research Council (2017-2021), Discovery Grant DP170100937.
Public trust in scientific knowledge, experts and governments is key to effective action on health security, emerging infectious diseases and climate change, among other matters. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR), called the ‘superbugs crisis’ in news media, is an iconic problem of trust because it requires that the general public endorse expert knowledge and change how they use antimicrobial pharmaceuticals. The proposed research aims to advance the public health policy and communications response to AMR by investigating:
1. the mediation of expert AMR knowledge and trust in public communications, news and digital media;
2. the reception of AMR communications and enactment of AMR knowledge in everyday life;
3. transformative media approaches for the promotion of public trust.
This project aims to investigate the public’s engagement with communications and media on antimicrobial resistance, examine their trust in expert knowledge and study the enactment of advice regarding antimicrobial drugs in everyday life. The resistance of common infections to antibiotics and other drugs is jeopardising health worldwide, including in Australia. The AMR crisis means that individuals and care givers need to use drugs as prescribed and reduce their expectations for drug treatments. The research findings will help to underpin public health policy and communications response to superbugs, improving national and international health outcomes. The proposed research links the sociology of trust, insight into the everyday life of pharmaceuticals, and digital media communications to inform public policy on antimicrobial resistance. In the long-term, the outcomes of the project may influence the health of Australian citizens and other populations who rely on antibiotics and other drugs to treat serious infections. It is an interdisciplinary project, which combines social sciences and humanities approaches. It links together: frame and narrative analyses of media content; ethnography of audience reception of health communications and the enactment of expert advice in real life settings, and; podcasting as a means for promoting public engagement with the superbugs crisis.