Barriers and facilitators and the need for a clinical guideline for microbiological diagnostic testing in the hospital: a qualitative and quantitative study

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Abstract: The appropriate use of microbiological investigations is an important cornerstone of antibiotic stewardship programmes, but receives relatively limited attention. This study aimed to identify influencing factors in performing microbiological diagnostic tests and to assess the need for a clinical guideline. We performed a qualitative (focus group) and quantitative (online questionnaire survey) study among medical specialists and residents to identify physicians’ considerations in performing microbiological diagnostic tests and to assess the need for a diagnostic guideline. The questionnaire consisted of 14 statements, divided into three categories: knowledge, influencing factors and presence of guidelines. The questionnaire was sent to physicians of the departments of internal medicine, intensive care, paediatrics and pulmonology in five hospitals in the Netherlands. Sub-analyses for medical specialists versus residents and for paediatric versus non-paediatric departments were performed. We included 187 completed questionnaires in our analyses. The physicians reported having adequate knowledge on methods, time-to-result and accuracy, but inadequate knowledge on costs of the tests. Patients’ clinical condition, comorbidity, local guidelines and accuracy of tests were appraised as the four most important influencing factors to perform tests. Over 70% (132/187) of physicians reported being interested in a guideline for microbiological diagnostic testing. Fifteen physicians (8.0%) provided additional comments. This study identifies the influencing factors to microbiological testing and shows the demand for a clinical guideline among physicians. Importance: Microbiological diagnostic tests are an important cornerstone within antibiotic stewardship programmes [1–5]. These programmes aim to ameliorate the appropriate use of antibiotics and thus improve clinical outcomes of infectious diseases, whilst reducing the emergence of antimicrobial resistance [6]. However, inappropriate microbiological testing is a widely recognised problem [7–12], and influencing factors to testing have not been studied in the past. Our research shows the demand for a clinical guideline among physicians, and it identifies their influencing factors to testing. These results can be used to create a clinical guideline for microbiological diagnostic testing, thus supporting antibiotic stewardship programmes and reducing antimicrobial resistance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)913-920
JournalEuropean journal of clinical microbiology & infectious diseases
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019

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