Communicating Antimicrobial Resistance

Research project
Active research
Project owner
Department of journalism, media and communication

Short description

JMG participates in a number of projects and research programs about the communication of antimicrobial resistance. Key research questions are how antimicrobial resistance is communicated in the news media and in social media, the public’s engagement with communications and media on ‘superbugs’ and the effects of media use on citizens’ beliefs concerning antibiotic resistance.

CARe – Centre for Antibiotic Resistance Research

JMG participates in CARe - Centre for Antibiotic Resistance Research at University of Gothenburg. Monika Djerf-Pierre is a principal investigator (PI) and member of the steering committee of CARe, and Adam Shehata is a researcher in the Centre.

CARe - Centre for Antibiotic Resistance Research at University of Gothenburg – has a vision is to limit mortality, morbidity and socioeconomic costs related to antibiotic resistance on a global scale through research. CARe offers diverse expertise representing six faculties and a broad network of stakeholders within the health care sector and beyond to generate state-of-the-art science with the intention to support rapid revision of policies and their implementation. CARe was founded in April 2016 as a part of the University of Gothenburg Centres for Global Societal Challenges (UGOT Challenges).

The University of Gothenburg funds CARe with a budget of ca 50 MSEK over the period 2016-2022.

Building the Australian response to the ‘superbugs’ crisis

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.

Project description at Monash University web site

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.

The long-term cultivation of sociotropic beliefs: How selective media use shape citizens' deeply held worldviews

Project team: Associate professor Adam Shehata (project leader, JMG/CARe), professor Monika Djerf-Pierre (JMG/CARe), professor Bengt Johansson (JMG).

Supported by the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet), 2017-2021.

Dramatic changes in the media environment have fundamentally altered how citizens can learn about society, current affairs and politics. With an explosion of media available, people can increasingly base their media use on personal interests and motivations. Some have forcefully argued that this creates a new media environment of “echo chambers”, “gated communities” or “filter bubbles”, where citizens’ selective media use reinforces their already held beliefs and worldviews rather than challenging them. In the most extreme case, people are said to live in parallel media worlds where they cultivate radically different perceptions of society. While such a development would signify a substantial shift in public opinion formation, we know surprisingly little about this phenomenon. Therefore, the purpose of the research project is to analyze whether citizens who get their news from different media sources adopt and cultivate different beliefs about society (sociotropic beliefs). By combining a four-year panel survey with a longitudinal media content analysis, the project studies the long-term effects of news media use on citizens’ beliefs concerning antibiotic resistance, and three other societal issues. By its unique focus on long-term media effects, this study will not only comprehensively analyze the echo chamber phenomenon - but also revitalize research on one of the classic theories of media effects: cultivation theory.

Researchers in the project

Monika Djerf-Pierre, professor, University of Gothenburg

Bengt Johansson, professor, University of Gothenburg

Adam Shehata, associate professor, University of Gothenburg