Antibiotic resistance: a primer and call to action

Health Commun. 2015;30(3):309-14. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2014.943634. Epub 2014 Aug 14.


During the past century, discoveries of microorganisms as causes of infections and antibiotics as effective therapeutic agents have contributed to significant gains in public health in many parts of the world. Health agencies worldwide are galvanizing attention toward antibiotic resistance, which is a major threat to public health (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013; World Health Organization, 2014). Some life scientists believe that we are approaching the post-antibiotic age (Davies & Davies, 2010). The growing threat of antimicrobial resistance is fueled by complex factors with biological, behavioral, and societal aspects. This primer provides an overview of antibiotic resistance and its growing burden on public health, the biological and behavioral mechanisms that increase antibiotic resistance, and examples of where health communication scholars can contribute to efforts to make our current antibiotic drugs last as long as possible. In addition, we identify compelling challenges for current communication theories and practices.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy
  • Cost of Illness
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial*
  • Health Communication
  • Humans
  • Public Health*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents