A simple dose of antibiotics: qualitative analysis of sepsis reporting in UK newspapers

Rush, L., Hilton, S. and McDaid, L. (2020) A simple dose of antibiotics: qualitative analysis of sepsis reporting in UK newspapers. BJGP Open, (doi:10.3399/bjgpopen20X101005) (PMID:31964635) (Early Online Publication)

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BACKGROUND: A recent drive to improve sepsis awareness has been accompanied by prolific media reporting about its management in children. Media reporting is known to influence public understanding of health issues and subsequent health-seeking behaviour. AIM: To examine UK newspaper representations of sepsis in children to better understand how the messages they convey may impact on parents' consulting behaviour and expectations about antimicrobial prescribing. DESIGN & SETTING: Qualitative analysis of articles published in 12 UK newspapers from January 1988 to June 2018. METHOD: Thematic analysis of 140 articles about sepsis in children identified through a search on the Nexis database. RESULTS: Reporting about sepsis in UK newspapers was characterised by emotive personal narratives about affected children who have suffered death or disability. These events were frequently presented as resulting from failings within the healthcare system that could have been avoided by early treatment. Health professionals were portrayed as inadequately prepared to recognise and manage sepsis, and as reluctant to prescribe antibiotics, even when necessary. Parents were positioned as advocates for their children, and as being ultimately responsible for ensuring that they receive appropriate treatment. CONCLUSION: This research identified messages about sepsis in the UK news media that could influence public attitudes about antibiotic prescribing in acute childhood illness. Public health communications about sepsis awareness must acknowledge the wider implications of unnecessary antibiotic use as a driver of antimicrobial resistance to reduce the risk of damaging efforts to promote rational prescribing.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Early Online Publication
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:McDaid, Professor Lisa and Rush, Dr Lynne and Hilton, Professor Shona
Authors: Rush, L., Hilton, S., and McDaid, L.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:BJGP Open
Publisher:Royal College of General Practitioners
ISSN (Online):2398-3795
Published Online:22 January 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in BJGP Open 2020
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
727671SPHSU Core Renewal: Informing Healthy Public Policy Research ProgrammePeter CraigMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/15IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
727631SPHSU Core Renewal: Relationships & Health Improvement Research ProgrammeLisa McDaidMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/11IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU