Infographics about antibiotics: making facts accessible
Oliver van Hecke
11 March 2020
Public misconceptions about antibiotic use persist despite the efforts of antibiotic awareness campaigns. These campaigns have often followed a top-down approach and have not sought input from the public. Communities need to see antibiotic campaign messages as relevant, accessible and important in order to have an influence on health seeking behaviour and antibiotic use.
This project builds directly on a recently published SPCR-funded project exploring how parents perceive and understand antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance. One of the key points to arise from the PAUSE study is that parents struggle to grasp any meaningful understanding of antibiotic use for children. They wanted four things from future antibiotic awareness campaigns:
- Campaigns should be tailored to parents
- They should be based on outcomes that parents can relate to
- Campaigns should reach parents
- They should be in a format that is accessible and one that parents will engage with.
This has recently been echoed by the Wellcome Trust in its report Reframing Antimicrobial Resistance.
directed by the evidence
With this in mind, our team set about to develop and test novel ways to engage the public in the discussion about antibiotics, "superbugs" and AMR. We focussed on antibiotic use for acute respiratory tract infections in children andused a bottom-up approach working with parents and a team of graphic designers.
So, the idea was to develop a series of prototype infographics (or graphic visual representations) of the latest scientific evidence about antibiotics and superbugs to display information quickly, clearly and reliably.
It is said that 90% of what you remember is based on the things you see. Therefore, visually quantifying the risks versus benefits of using antibiotics for acute RTI may help parents better understand the reasons for avoiding antibiotics. Infographics are quick to read and fit into people’s busy lives. They are visually appealing, interesting and easy to understand.
Developing the visual material
With a team of parents and graphic designers in focus groups, we iteratively developed a series of evidenced-based infographics (EBIs) on antibiotic use for common infections in children. Most parents found the evidence displayed as infographics novel and relevant to their families. However, for some parents, the presented evidence was either too medically-focussed where the outcome was not relevant to parents or not of immediate concern to parents. The manner in which the information was displayed influenced their understanding e.g. difficulty interpreting graphs. Parents preferred one health message per visual using accurate and consistent terminology to avoid misinterpretation.
View the full poster (Oliver won first prize for his poster presentation at SW SAPC on 5 & 6 March 2020)
Read more about the project: