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What are the factors driving antimicrobial resistance? Perspectives from a public event in London, England.

Castro-Sanchez, E. ORCID: 0000-0002-3351-9496, Moore, L. S. P., Husson, F. & Holmes, A. H. (2016). What are the factors driving antimicrobial resistance? Perspectives from a public event in London, England.. BMC Infectious Diseases, 16(1), article number 465. doi: 10.1186/s12879-016-1810-x


BACKGROUND: Antimicrobial resistance is driven by multiple factors. Resolving the threat to human and animal health presented by drug-resistant infections remains a societal challenge that demands close collaboration between scientists and citizens. We compared current public views about key contributing factors to antimicrobial resistance with those expressed by experts.

METHODS: Overarching factors contributing to antimicrobial resistance were identified following a review of literature. The factors were then described in plain language and attached to ballot boxes at a public engagement event organised by a university. Responses to each factor were counted at the end of the event.

RESULTS: Four hundred five responses were received from 3750 visitors (11 % response rate). Nearly half of responses (192/405, 47 · 4 %) considered the misuse/overuse of antibiotics in humans as the main determinant of antimicrobial resistance. The misuse of antibiotics in animal health obtained 16 · 3 % (66/405) responses. However, the lack of quick tests to diagnose infections received 10/405 votes (2 · 47 %), and the lack of effective vaccines received one vote (0 · 25 %).

CONCLUSIONS: The majority of responses ascribed the emergence of drug-resistant infections to the misuse of antibiotics in human and animals. Suboptimal dosing, availability of diagnostics and environmental contamination were considered less influential on the development of antimicrobial resistance. The growing recognition of broader multifaceted drivers of drug resistance by experts is not yet echoed in the public mind.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Publisher Keywords: Antimicrobial resistance; Public awareness; Health literacy
Subjects: Q Science > QR Microbiology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
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