Antibiotics from a humanist perspective

21 February 2018

Hello there... Klara Bertils, linguist and doctoral student at the Uppsala Antibiotic Center, which analyses conversations between healthcare staff and patients in consultations where antibiotic prescription may be relevant.

Klara Bertils, PhD student at UAC.
Photo: Oskar Flink

What is a linguist doing among antibiotics researchers?
“I’m interested in conversations when important things are involved, and communication between healthcare staff and patients prior to a possible antibiotics prescription falls within that category without a doubt. In my project, I will document and analyse meetings with patients suffering from respiratory infections with the aim of identifying possible patterns in the talks that can lead to improved antibiotics prescription.”

How is the humanist touch being received in a traditional medical field?
“My initial impression is that Uppsala Antibiotic Center is an international, interdisciplinary environment populated by intelligent people. Of course, it does lean towards the medical and natural sciences, but I also feel a positive curiosity about what humanist perspectives and methods can bring to the work against antibiotics resistance.”

What phase is your work in?
“Earlier studies show that precisely upper respiratory infections can form the basis for inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions, and we have begun discussions with employees at Strama – a national collaboration project against antibiotic resistance – who are very positive. My hope is that they can contribute knowledge and contacts that guide us into healthcare.”

What can your results contribute in the long term?
“Our ambition is to produce educational materials that provide healthcare staff even better tools to handle antibiotic-related patient talks. Swedish patients are generally aware of the challenges we are facing, and with the knowledge we gather, we hope to be able to contribute to more in-depth involvement in responsible antibiotic management.”

Uppsala Antibiotic Center facts

  • Uppsala Antibiotic Center was founded in 2016 at Uppsala University.
  • The centre is jointly financed by the university’s three disciplinary research domains and the Vice-Chancellor.
  • The initiative is under way for four years.

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