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01.12.2012 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2012 Open Access

BMC Health Services Research 1/2012

MRSA model of learning and adaptation: a qualitative study among the general public

BMC Health Services Research > Ausgabe 1/2012
Rodney E Rohde, Jovita Ross-Gordon
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1472-6963-12-88) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

RER is an Associate Editor for BMC. This relationship has no bearing on the research presented herein. The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
This study was supported financially by a grant from the American Society of Clinical Laboratory Science (July, 2009); participants were compensated at a rate of $50 for the first interview, and an additional $50 for any or all follow-up interviews.

Authors' contributions

RER and JRG designed the study. RER conducted the interviews, transcribed the tapes, and made the preliminary analysis. Both authors contributed to the final analysis of the interviews. Both authors have read and approved the final manuscript.



More people in the US now die from Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections than from HIV/AIDS. Often acquired in healthcare facilities or during healthcare procedures, the extremely high incidence of MRSA infections and the dangerously low levels of literacy regarding antibiotic resistance in the general public are on a collision course. Traditional medical approaches to infection control and the conventional attitude healthcare practitioners adopt toward public education are no longer adequate to avoid this collision. This study helps us understand how people acquire and process new information and then adapt behaviours based on learning.


Using constructivist theory, semi-structured face-to-face and phone interviews were conducted to gather pertinent data. This allowed participants to tell their stories so their experiences could deepen our understanding of this crucial health issue. Interview transcripts were analysed using grounded theory and sensitizing concepts.


Our findings were classified into two main categories, each of which in turn included three subthemes. First, in the category of Learning, we identified how individuals used their Experiences with MRSA, to answer the questions: What was learned? and, How did learning occur? The second category, Adaptation gave us insights into Self-reliance, Reliance on others, and Reflections on the MRSA journey.


This study underscores the critical importance of educational programs for patients, and improved continuing education for healthcare providers. Five specific results of this study can reduce the vacuum that currently exists between the knowledge and information available to healthcare professionals, and how that information is conveyed to the public. These points include: 1) a common model of MRSA learning and adaptation; 2) the self-directed nature of adult learning; 3) the focus on general MRSA information, care and prevention, and antibiotic resistance; 4) the interconnected nature of adaptation; and, 5) the need for a consistent step by step plan to deal with MRSA provided at the time of diagnosis.
Additional file 1: Appendix A. Recruitment and Scheduling Flier. Appendix B. Letter of Introduction/Consent Form. Appendix C Interview Guide. Appendix D - Cross Reference Matrix. (DOC 46 KB)
Authors’ original file for figure 1
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