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Blog: Interdisciplinary Research and AMR Workshop


"Monster soup commonly called Thames water, being a correct representation of that precious stuff doled out to us!!!" Image credits: British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

We need research to present the scale of the problem, so we can develop more informed interventions, because at the moment the threat of AMR is unknown in our environment (like the Thames Water "Monster Soup").

Interdisciplinary Research and Antimicrobial Resistance’ Workshop

University of Bristol, 2nd March 2017

On the 2nd March, I attended a workshop on Interdisciplinary Research and Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).

The purpose of the workshop was to:

  • Broaden knowledge of the topic of AMR
  • Stimulate thinking on researching AMR across disciplines
  • To possibly impact future work

The workshop provided opportunities to:

  • Identify research questions in AMR that require social science input in conjunction with medical, biological, veterinary or life sciences
  • Discuss challenges and solutions in conducting interdisciplinary research
  • Develop or consolidate suitable research collaborations

Participants had opportunities to hear about existing examples of successful interdisciplinary collaboration, how to develop links with potential collaborators for research proposal development and explore future interdisciplinary funding opportunities. There was a focus on global research. UK Research Council representatives were present. Delegates came from a variety of disciplines, from many different universities.

Disciplines included: History, Anthropology, Life Sciences, Microbiology, Social scientists, Geography, Architecture and Design, Nursing, Medical humanities, Science and technology studies, Ecology and evolution, Health psychology, Education, Veterinary, Policy and social research methods, Behavioral sciences, Health science, Public health, Health economics and Zoology.

There was an expert panel discussing:

  • Negotiating the vocabulary of interdisciplinary AMR research (Reyher/Buller, Bristol, Exeter)
  • AMR transmission from the outdoor environment to humans in Bangladesh (Rousham, Loughborough)
  • The challenges and rewards of conducting social science research into antimicrobial stewardship in secondary care (Charani, Imperial)
  • Antibiotic use in Southeast Asia: Researcher experiences of a “social scientist” (Haenssgen, Oxford)
  • Interdisciplinary research Antimicrobial Resistance: driving the unknown route (Currea, Copenhagen)
  • Studying AMR as a social dilemma (Tarrant, Leicester)

Another aspect of the workshop was small group discussions around AMR themes: The thematic clusters were categorized into the following:

  • A. Policy development
  • B. Diagnostics, testing
  • C. Built environment and behaviour in healthcare setting
  • D. Farming, food supply and regulation
  • E. Environment and ecosystem
  • F. Public engagement 
  • G. Professional practice and AMR
  • H. Migration
  • I. Antibiotic use in LMIC (my research falls under this category)

To summarise, here are some of the notable things I learned during the talks:

  • AMR is about drugs and bugs!
  • The problem is biological but the solution is technical
  • AMR is transmissible
  • AMR is a consequence of individual behaviour

Other thoughts:

There is a feeling that social sciences are subordinate to the white coat sciences. We have to solve solutions together as they are beyond doing alone. We have to speak to other scientists in their own language or at least speak in a common language.

What contributions can each discipline make? We need to develop long-term collaborations to design research and raise interest for AMR in local social researchers. Clinicians must teach social scientists and vice versa.

Develop social theory behind AMR:

Three stage process:
1. Patient experience (reported) – what leads the person to come to the facility
2. Microbiological testing (results from lab)
3. Clinical encounter symptom based (relationship between the patient and health worker)



Please do get in touch, should you want to discuss this workshop, or my research at Warwick on AMR in South Africa.

I would also be interested in discussing your own research at Warwick related to AMR.

I am thinking of organizing a discussion seminar this summer, so do get in touch if you are interested in joining in.