Prioritizing research areas for antibiotic stewardship programmes in hospitals: a behavioural perspective consensus paper

, Magdalena Rzewuska (Lead / Corresponding author), Esmita Charani, Janet Clarkson, Peter Davey, Eilidh M. Duncan, Jill Francis, Katie Gillies, Winfried V. Kern, Fabiana Lorencatto, Charis Ann Marwick, Jo McEwen, Ralph Möhler, Andrew M. Morris, Craig R. Ramsay, Susan Rogers Van Katwyk, Brita Skodvin, Ingrid Smith, Kathryn N. Suh, Jeremy M. Grimshaw

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Scope: Antibiotic stewardship programmes (ASPs) are necessary in hospitals to improve the judicious use of antibiotics. While ASPs require complex change of key behaviours on individual, team, organisation and policy levels, evidence from the behavioural sciences is underutilised in antibiotic stewardship studies across the world, including high-income countries (HICs). A consensus procedure was performed to propose research priority areas for optimising effective implementation of ASPs in hospital settings, using a behavioural perspective.

Methods: A workgroup for behavioural approaches to ASPs was convened in response to the fourth call for leading expert network proposals by the Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance (JPIAMR). Eighteen clinical and academic specialists in antibiotic stewardship, implementation science and behaviour change from four high-income countries with publicly-funded health care systems (that is Canada, Germany, Norway and the UK), met face-to-face to agree on broad research priority areas using a structured consensus method.

Question addressed and recommendations: The consensus process on the 10 identified research priority areas resulted in recommendations that need urgent scientific interest and funding to optimise effective implementation of antibiotic stewardship programmes for hospital inpatients in HICs with publicly-funded health care systems. We suggest and detail, behavioural science evidence-guided research efforts in the following areas: 1) Comprehensively identifying barriers and facilitators to implementing antibiotic stewardship programmes and clinical recommendations intended to optimise antibiotic prescribing; 2) Identifying actors (‘who’) and actions (‘what needs to be done’) of antibiotic stewardship programmes and clinical teams; 3) Synthesising available evidence to support future research and planning for antibiotic stewardship programmes; 4) Specifying the activities in current antibiotic stewardship programmes with the purpose of defining a ‘control group’ for comparison with new initiatives; 5) Defining a balanced set of outcomes and measures to evaluate the effects of interventions focused on reducing unnecessary exposure to antibiotics; 6) Conducting robust evaluations of antibiotic stewardship programmes with built-in process evaluations and fidelity assessments; 7) Defining and designing antibiotic stewardship programmes; 8) Establishing the evidence base for impact of antibiotic stewardship programmes on resistance; 9) Investigating the role and impact of government and policy contexts on antibiotic stewardship programmes; and 10) Understanding what matters to patients in antibiotic stewardship programmes in hospitals. Assessment, revisions and updates of our priority-setting exercise should be considered, at intervals of 2 years. To propose research priority areas in low- and medium income countries (LIMCs), the methodology reported here could be applied.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-168
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Microbiology and Infection
Issue number2
Early online date6 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • Antimicrobial stewardship
  • Behavioural approach
  • Multidisciplinary approach
  • Nominal group technique
  • Research priorities
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents/administration & dosage
  • Antimicrobial Stewardship
  • Humans
  • Infection Control
  • Consensus
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Hospitals
  • Research Design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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