Changing the way we talk about AMR

It’s time we were clear about how we talk about antibiotic resistance (AMR). A recent Comment piece in Nature is urging those in the antimicrobial resistance space to standardise terminology to maximise understanding of the issue and stimulate action.

“Many of the terms routinely used to describe the AMR are misunderstood, interpreted differently or loaded with unhelpful connotations.”

The issue of AMR requires communication to a wide-ranging audience.  This audience includes representatives from government, regulators, and the public, as well as experts in health, food, environment, economics, trade and industry. But are they all getting the message when it comes to AMR?

It appears as though the message isn’t getting through. The World Health Organisation reports that less than half of respondents has heard of the term ‘antimicrobial resistance’, with only one fifth of those surveyed recognising the abbreviated version, ‘AMR’.

A study by the Wellcome Trust found that most people don’t understand the language used to report drug-resistance, or disengage because they feel the issue is too big for them to act on.


Standardising AMR language would be a significant step towards addressing the first objective in the WHO global action plan: to improve awareness and understanding of drug resistance through effective communication, education and training.

The authors suggest using the term ‘drug-resistance’ when referring to the issue broadly, as over two-thirds of those surveyed in the Wellcome Trust study understand the term. It is also recommended that the terms ‘antibiotic’ or ‘antifungal’ be used when describing specific infections, instead of ‘antimicrobial’.

By using clearer language and standardising terminology, we can maximise understanding of AMR as a significant global issue and increase antibiotic stewardship across the wide-range of audiences that are effected by AMR.

Read the full article here

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