Oxford PharmaGenesis causes microbe mayhem at the Oxfordshire Science Festival!

7 July 2017

Our first not-for-profit game app Dr Bug: Microbe Mayhem! was launched at the Oxfordshire Science Festival on 17–18 June 2017 to raise awareness about antibiotic resistance. You can download the free app to your iPad or Android phone/tablet here.

Over-prescription of unnecessary antibiotics for viral infections is one of the main factors in the rise of antibiotic resistance in the healthcare setting. Indeed, Dr Julie Grigg, one of our external advisers, general practitioner and partner at Haygarth Surgery, emphasizes “The most common reason that people ask to be prescribed antibiotics is to treat a sore throat, cough or cold.”
As a Communiqué award winner for corporate social responsibility, and an independent leader in the healthcare communications sector, Oxford PharmaGenesis takes its role in improving patient health very seriously. We therefore decided to develop a game to educate people, and in particular children, about antibiotic resistance and its causes.

Dr Bug: Microbe Mayhem! has been created in collaboration with the local digital agency Global Initiative to raise awareness of antibiotic resistance among 7–12-year-old children, who are the target audience of the Oxfordshire Science Festival. The game focuses on several key messages: antibiotics do not work against viral infections; antibiotics kill harmful bacteria and beneficial bacteria; inappropriate use of antibiotics can promote the development of antibiotic resistance; and, once bacteria become resistant, they can no longer be killed by antibiotics.

To ensure that the game was relevant, scientifically sound and appropriate for the target audience, we sought advice from external experts such as Professor Matt Hutchings (School of Biological Sciences at the University of East Anglia), Dr Dane Comerford (Director of the Oxfordshire Science Festival) and Dr Julie Grigg (partner at Haygarth Surgery). Here is some of their feedback:

Before launching the game, we tested the prototype with children from the Aston & Cote Church of England Primary School and with a number of our colleagues’ children. We used questionnaires to assess the children’s baseline understanding and their understanding after they had played the game. We used the same questionnaires with visitors at the festival. Overall, we found that more than 60% of 60 children increased their antibiotic awareness by playing the game.

Before the game launch at the festival, we attracted attention via a dedicated Twitter campaign, our website page and a press release. Dr Bug: Microbe Mayhem! also received attention on PMLiVE.

Nineteen amazing volunteers from Oxford PharmaGenesis helped to launch the app at the Oxfordshire Science Festival, where it was enthusiastically received by the public. The event was attended by more than 6000 people. Visitors who played the app at our booth received an informative certificate with a record of their score to take home. The top scorers’ names went up on a leader board for everybody to see. Younger children were invited to play our tactile bubble wrap ‘Bust-a-bug’ game, which encouraged them to pop bad bugs. We also handed out a topical word search for adults, which offered the chance to win a book voucher. Congratulations to all the winners and we hope to see you again at the festival next year!