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The University of Southampton
Global Network for Anti-Microbial Resistance and Infection Prevention

Mapping Microbes

'Preventing the spread of infection in hospital care settings; Health professionals, the agency of microbes and imaging tracking technology' is a three-month pilot project funded by the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) via NAMRIP Pump Priming.

The project addresses the question of how nurses think, act, and respond in situations where there is the risk of spreading infection to their patient or to themself.

Working in a new collaboration across a number of disciplines, this project brings together imaging technology with nursing studies and cultural geography expertise. It offers a novel approach to improve understanding of how health professional behaviour is formed in relation to experiences and representations of the risk of microbial life.

Image of a hospital ward
Bacteria and behaviour will be tracked in a mock hospital ward

Existing nursing studies recognise the challenges to changing behaviour that could improve patient’s chances of not contracting an infection. In their daily work health professional handle patients with various levels of infection, and respond to these through changing their level of personal protection during routine tasks.

Within cultural geography there is a body of work that explores how human practices are responses to the agency and representations of non-human’s including microbial life.

Imagining analysis can map the mobility of human and microbial activities.

Collaboratively these disciplinary approaches will support the development of new understandings that are factors in reducing infection spread in hospital settings, and the development of a pedagogic video incorporating performance art.

Working with Bristol-based filmmaker Joseph Turp, the team developed 'In our hands' a short film about this project based on the poem by Michael Rosen. It tells the story of the spread of pathogens in a simulated hospital ward.

Designed as a training tool for healthcare workers, nurses from University Hospital Southampton and Southmead Hospital, Bristol were involved in development of the film. 

Further information on this project can be found on the Mapping Microbes web page, including the development of a video tracking application that enables users to record instances, frequency and quality of touch onto video footage.

NAMRIP Project Team:

Research: Dr Emma Roe, Dr Jacqui Prieto, Professor Lisette Schoonhoven, Dr Sandra Wilks, Dr Xunli Zhang, Dr Paul Hurley, Dr Charlotte Veal and Dr Robert Zmijan

Statistics: Professor Paul White, Professor Timothy Leighton and Dr Pina Gruden.

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