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Appaneal HJ, Luther MK, Timbrook TT, LaPlante KL, Dosa DM. Facilitators and Barriers to Antibiotic Stewardship: A Qualitative Study of Pharmacists' Perspectives. Hospital pharmacy. 2019 Aug 1; 54(4):250-258.
The Veterans Affairs (VA) is a leader in the implementation and advancement of antibiotic stewardship programs throughout the nation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also led national antibiotic stewardship efforts and has outlined core elements to improve antibiotic use in hospitals, long-term care, and outpatient settings. Many facilities still face challenges to the implementation and maintenance of successful programs, particularly in nonacute care settings. The objective of this study was to identify barriers and facilitators to antibiotic stewardship within the VA medical centers through qualitative interviews with pharmacists. Eight semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with pharmacists from 6 VA medical centers within VA New England Healthcare System. Pharmacist respondents were either pharmacy champions (for medical centers with established programs) or pharmacists with responsibilities in making antibiotic recommendations (locations without established programs). All interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. NVivo 8 was used for data coding and analysis. Pharmacists from all 8 medical centers were contacted for interviews and pharmacists from 6 medical centers agreed to interviews (75% VA New England medical center participation). Three main themes regarding antibiotic stewardship were identified from the interviews with pharmacists. Respondents described the importance of (1) a supportive organizational culture, (2) protected time for antibiotic stewardship, and (3) a cohesive organizational structure in the success of antibiotic stewardship programs. Our findings support the CDC core elements for antibiotic stewardship, in particular the importance of leadership commitment in the creation of a culture that supports antibiotic stewardship and in ensuring staff are given sufficient time for antibiotic stewardship efforts. Although a strong supportive culture has been built, strategies focused on fostering increased protected time for antibiotic stewardship and a cohesive organizational structure may be helpful in advancing and sustaining successful antibiotic stewardship programs that improve patient outcomes.