The Wellcome Trust have this morning put out the results of a very interesting study about public understanding of antibiotic resistance.
The research by Good Business found that people struggle with what the term ‘antibiotic resistance’ means, and are more comfortable with alternative terms such as “drug-resistant infections” or “antibiotic-resistant germs.” Also that, because of the way we are communicating about this issue, they do not see it as relevant to them nor a problem they can do something about. However, once they were given practical examples of what it could mean to them and their families they then became more receptive.
That’s troubling given that antimicrobial resistance featured on the National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies for the first time this year. This is an issue that the nation can not address with science alone and needs its citizens engaged.
This is not a large study – just over 60 people took part – but it is a telling one perhaps. By talking over the top of people’s heads, not thinking wisely about the language we use, and above all failing to relate it to their busy, everyday lives we are missing opportunities to enlist them in this important national fight.
The Wellcome Trust have already said they will adopt different terms now when talking about this issue.
But this study underlines that effective communication is also about getting personal.