How data visualisation using historical medical journals can contribute to current debates around antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance in primary care

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Abstract

Background
The early years of antibiotic use in primary care (c1950-1969) has received little attention. Medical journals provide a rich source for studying historic healthcare practitioners’ views and interests, with the potential to inform contemporary debate around issues of overuse and antimicrobial resistance.

Aims
Pilot study to test the application of digital methods to interrogate historical medical journal data in relation to antibiotic use.

Methods / Approach
Meta-data and scanned articles were extracted from the online British Journal of General Practice (BJGP) archive from inception (1953) to 1969. Searchable text was generated using an application called ABBYY optical character recognition, and Python used to generate data visualisations exploring (1) how BJGP changed during the period, (2) mentions of terms ‘antibiotic(s)’, ‘penicillin’, ‘resistance/resistant’ and mapping when and where they occurred.

Results / Evaluation
From 1953-1969, BJGP expanded in terms of number of annual issues (4 to 17) and annual pages (<25 to >1100). Heatmap visualisations were used to facilitate understanding of the frequency with which use of the term ‘antibiotic(s)’ occurred. By 1969 an article mentioning ‘antibiotic(s)’ was published monthly. Bigram searches found ‘treatment’ and ‘therapy’ to be the two most common terms that appeared with ‘antibiotic(s)’. The fourth and seventh most common terms were ‘resistant’ (first appearing in 1955) and ‘resistance’ (1962).

Conclusions
This pilot work shows that primary care publications increased considerably between 1953-1969. Articles on antibiotics featured frequently in relation to therapeutic intervention, and concerns around resistance occurred at an early stage. This approach provides new insights into how attitudes and behaviours around antibiotic use by primary care have evolved over time. It may also have the potential to inform study of the future use of antibiotics in primary care.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2023
EventSouth West Society for Academic Primary Care Regional Meeting 2023 - Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Duration: 16 Mar 202317 Mar 2023

Conference

ConferenceSouth West Society for Academic Primary Care Regional Meeting 2023
Abbreviated titleSAPC SW
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityBirmingham
Period16/03/2317/03/23

Structured keywords

  • Jean Golding

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