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Original research
Effectiveness of interventions targeting antibiotic use in long-term aged care facilities: a systematic review and meta-analysis
  1. Magdalena Z Raban1,
  2. Claudia Gasparini1,
  3. Ling Li1,
  4. Melissa T Baysari1,2,
  5. Johanna I Westbrook1
  1. 1 Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2 Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Magdalena Z Raban; magda.raban{at}


Objectives There are high levels of inappropriate antibiotic use in long-term care facilities (LTCFs). Our objective was to examine evidence of the effectiveness of interventions designed to reduce antibiotic use and/or inappropriate use in LTCFs.

Design Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Data sources MEDLINE, Embase and CINAHL from 1997 until November 2018.

Eligibility criteria Controlled and uncontrolled studies in LTCFs measuring intervention effects on rates of overall antibiotic use and/or appropriateness of use were included. Secondary outcomes were intervention implementation barriers from process evaluations.

Data extraction and synthesis Two reviewers independently applied the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care group’s resources to classify interventions and assess risk of bias. Meta-analyses used random effects models to pool results.

Results Of include studies (n=19), 10 had a control group and 17 had a high risk of bias. All interventions had multiple components. Eight studies (with high risk of bias) showed positive impacts on outcomes and included one of the following interventions: audit and feedback, introduction of care pathways or an infectious disease team. Meta-analyses on change in the percentage of residents on antibiotics (pooled relative risk (RR) (three studies, 6862 residents): 0.85, 95% CI: 0.61 to 1.18), appropriateness of decision to treat with antibiotics (pooled RR (three studies, 993 antibiotic orders): 1.10, 95% CI: 0.64 to 1.91) and appropriateness of antibiotic selection for respiratory tract infections (pooled RR (three studies, 292 orders): 1.15, 95% CI: 0.95 to 1.40), showed no significant intervention effects. However, meta-analyses only included results from intervention groups since most studies lacked a control group. Insufficient data prevented meta-analysis on other outcomes. Process evaluations (n=7) noted poor intervention adoption, low physician engagement and high staff turnover as barriers.

Conclusions There is insufficient evidence that interventions employed to date are effective at improving antibiotic use in LTCFs. Future studies should use rigorous study designs and tailor intervention implementation to the setting.

  • anti-bacterial agents
  • residential facilities
  • nursing homes
  • antimicrobial stewardship
  • meta-analysis
  • quality in health care

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Contributors MR conceived the study, the design of which was refined with MB and JW. CG led the design of the search strategy with input from MR. MR and CG conducted the data extraction, and MR and MB the risk of bias assessments. LL interpreted the extracted data and conducted the meta-analysis. MR led the drafting of the manuscript, which was reviewed for intellectual content by all co-authors who approved the final version to be published.

  • Funding MR is supported by an Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Early Career Fellowship (APP1143941).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. All data used in the meta-analysis are presented in the Supplementary materials.

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