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Effective antimicrobial resistance communication: the role of information design

Walker, S. ORCID: (2019) Effective antimicrobial resistance communication: the role of information design. Palgrave Communcations, 5. 24. ISSN 2055-1045

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1057/s41599-019-0231-z


Getting the message across about the dangers of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and how to prevent it is a global priority. This article discusses the role of information design in the effective communication of information about AMR, and suggests that the design process – user input, iteration and consideration of circumstances of use – is key to successful communication. To illustrate this, using material from the Otto and Marie Neurath Isotype Collection at the University of Reading, this article considers the work of Otto and Marie Neurath who developed the Isotype system for visual education in the 1920s. They collaborated with scientists, writers and illustrators to ensure that messages were both accurate and relevant for their intended audiences, so that people could make their own decisions based on factual explanation. Their use of pictograms and schematic illustrations, consistent use of colours to represent meaning, and carefully considered relationships between text and image provided a distinctive visual ‘look and feel’. The charts designed by the Neuraths to educate people about health included a series made in the 1930s for the US National Tuberculosis Association to explain the dangers of, and how to prevent TB. This article reviews how these charts were designed, including the designated role of the ‘transformer’ who worked to ensure that scientific facts were presented in an understandable form. The way of working and the verbal and graphic characteristics of the charts deserve serious consideration for effective communication of information about AMR today. Particularly relevant are the use of schematic images using scale and simplification to attract attention, the use of story-telling to engage people, not overwhelming readers with too much information, and using straightforward language. The article asserts that cross-disciplinary working is key to successful explanation about the dangers of AMR. It illustrates this with reference to a research project, influenced by the Isotype approach to public health communication, that brings together academics and practitioners in information design, architecture, ergonomics and human factors, and pharmacy in communicating information about AMR to people using community pharmacies.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Typography & Graphic Communication
ID Code:81906


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