Antibiotic Stewardship Interventions in Hospitals in Low-and Middle Income Countries: A Systematic Review. (Bull World Health Organ 2018;96:266–280)
(2018; 15 pages)


Objective: To review the effectiveness of antibiotic stewardship interventions in hospitals in low- and middle-income countries.

Methods: We searched MEDLINE®, Embase®, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and regional indexes for studies of interventions to improve appropriate prescribing and use of antibiotics for hospitalized patients in low- and middle-income countries. We included controlled trials, controlled before-and-after studies and interrupted time-series studies published up to December 2017. We report prescribing, clinical and microbiological outcomes using a narrative approach.

Findings: We screened 7342 original titles and abstracts, assessed 241 full-text articles and included 27 studies from 2 low-income and 11 middle-income countries. We found a medium (11 studies) or high risk (13 studies) of bias. Generally, all types of interventions (structural, persuasive and enabling) and intervention bundles were reported to improve prescribing and clinical outcomes. However, the studied interventions and reported outcomes varied widely. The most frequent intervention was procalcitonin-guided antibiotic treatment (8 of 27 studies, all randomized controlled trials). The intervention was associated with a relative risk for patients receiving antibiotics ranging between 0.40 and 0.87.

Conclusion: The majority of studies reported a positive effect of hospital antibiotic stewardship interventions. However, we cannot draw general conclusions about the effectiveness of such interventions in low- and middle-income countries because of low study quality, heterogeneity of interventions and outcomes, and under-representation of certain settings. To strengthen the evidence base, action needs to be taken to address these shortcomings.

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