Exploring barriers to and enablers of antimicrobial stewardship in rural health services

Elizabeth Smith1, Kaye Ervin2, Dr. Ka Chun Tse1, Carol  Reid2

1NCN Health, , Australia
2University of Melbourne, , Australia

Introduction: World wide antimicrobial resistance is increasing, and antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) interventions aimed at increasing compliance with optimal antimicrobial prescribing are essential in tackling this issue. Local level research is important to tailor interventions in a place-based approach to solve local level problems.

Methods: Medical Practitioners and Senior Nurses at three rural health services were invited by email to participate in interviews to explore opinions and practices of antimicrobial prescribing. A rural health academic conducted the interviews and two academics analysed the transcripts.

Results: Seven Medical Practitioners and thirteen Senior Nurses from three small rural health services participated in the study. The major findings were that nurses were perceived as the ‘gatekeepers’ to antimicrobial initiatives by all participants. Senior Nurses perceived AMS activities as being a link in a world-wide program to eradicate antimicrobial resistance, while Medical Practitioners perceived it as a local level program, aimed at educating individual prescribers. There was consensus that an intervention aimed at improved documentation at the point of prescribing and increased accessibility to antimicrobial prescribing guidelines had a high potential for increased compliance with optimal prescribing of antimicrobials.

Conclusion: The research enabled identification of interventions aimed at increasing optimal compliance with antimicrobial prescribing that are acceptable to and appropriate for Medical Practitioners and nursing staff at three rural health services.


Infection Control Nurse of 10 years with a background in intensive care and emergency nursing in regional and rural settings

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