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Antibiotics and activity spaces

White tablets on a blue background

Image credit: Hal Gatewood on Unsplash


Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a top global health challenge, threatening to become the leading cause of death globally by 2050. Policies to tackle AMR recognise that human behaviour and medicine use are important, but the global health policy tools are insufficient. Not only are education and awareness campaigns insufficient to change behaviours fundamentally, but they might also delay more effective action to address structural factors of medicine use, like poverty, stress, hardship, and health system deficiencies. Considering the urgency of AMR action, this is a dangerous and costly omission.

This research calls for reimaging global health policy as development policy, recognising that AMR is only one among several symptoms of deeper-rooted social problems. Antibiotics and Activity Spaces is a survey of 5,885 villagers in Chiang Rai (Thailand) and Salavan (Lao PDR) to better understand (1) how people access healthcare and what actually counts as “problematic” antibiotic use, (2) whether antibiotic-related information from educational activities spreads or simply evaporates in village community networks, and (3) whether there are simple “early warning” indicators (e.g. specific symptoms) to detect whether people are likely to have “problematic” antibiotic use.

The surveys were implemented by 10-member survey teams in each country between November 2017 and April 2018, and the data is now available open access via the UK Data Service.

Research protocol

Haenssgen, MJ, Charoenboon, N, Zanello, G, Mayxay, M, Reed-Tsochas, F, Jones, COH et al. (2018). Antibiotics and activity spaces: protocol of an exploratory study of behaviour, marginalisation, and knowledge diffusion. BMJ Global Health, 3, e000621. doi: 10.1136/bmjgh-2017-000621

Data set

Haenssgen, MJ, Zanello, G, Mayxay, M et al. (2019). Antibiotics and activity spaces: an exploratory study of behaviour, marginalisation, and knowledge diffusion [data set]. Colchester: UK Data Service. doi: 10.5255/UKDA-SN-853658

Project team

Dr Marco J Haenssgen

Dr Marco J Haenssgen
(GSD, Warwick)

Dr Proochista Ariana
(University of Oxford)

Dr Heiman Wertheim
(University of Oxford)

Dr Rachel C Greer
(Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit)

Dr Caroline Jones
(University of Oxford)

Dr Yoel Lubell
(University of Oxford)

Dr Felix P Reed-Tsochas
(University of Oxford)

Dr Giacomo Zanello
(University of Reading)

Dr Paul N Newton
(University of Oxford)

Dr Mayfong Mayxay
(Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit)