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Overcoming obstacles to social science research in AMR

4 September 2018

Professor Helen Lambert has described her work as the Economic and Social Research Council’s Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Research Champion (2015-2017) in an article published in Impact. 

Photo of antibiotic pills and tablets in blister packs

In the article she outlines the main barriers to social scientists getting involved in AMR research and what can be done to address this.

Professor Lambert, who is Professor of Medical Anthropology at the University of Bristol and a member of the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Evaluation of Interventions, was appointed to the AMR Champion role in 2015. Her objectives were to:

  • highlight the role of social science research into AMR
  • increase understanding and awareness of the value of social science research evidence for tackling AMR among scientists and health policy makers
  • create a database and network of social scientists with an interest in antimicrobial resistance.

“AMR is a human problem as much as a microbiological one”, Professor Lambert says. “Its determinants and consequences are socially patterned, and social science is as important as laboratory research in learning how to tackle it effectively.

“At first glance, something as technical sounding as ‘antimicrobial resistance’ does not sound like the sort of problem that social scientists either would have relevant expertise in, or would have much interest in researching! This needs to be overcome by unpacking what AMR is all about and explaining how, for example, a sociologist who works on organisational culture or a political scientist with expertise in global governance has knowledge and understanding that could be highly relevant for researching AMR.”

Antimicrobial resistance happens when microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites) change when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs (such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antimalarials, and anthelmintics). Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance are sometimes referred to as ‘superbugs’. As a result, the medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spread to others. (Source: World Health Organization).

Read the full article ‘Overcoming obstacles to social science research in AMR’.

Visit the AMR Champion website and read the AMR Champion blog.