Existing terminology related to antimicrobial resistance fails to evoke risk perceptions and be remembered
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global healthcare threat promoted by all use of antibiotics. Hence, reducing overuse of antibiotics is essential. The necessary behaviour change relies on effective public health communication, but previous information campaigns—while showing some successes—have fallen short in generating a lasting increase of public awareness. A potential reason for this is AMR-related terminology, which has been criticised as inconsistent, abstract and difficult to pronounce. We report the first empirical test of word memorability and risk association for the most frequent AMR-related health terms.
Our findings highlight an urgent need to rename AMR with a memorable term that effectively signals the existential threat of AMR and thereby motivates a change in antibiotic use. The success of the revised term is likely to depend, at least partially, on its linguistic attributes.
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