The Adoption of Antimicrobial Stewardship Programmes in Ministry of Health Hospitals in Saudi Arabia
Aim: This thesis aims to explore and investigate the level and process of adoption of Antimicrobial Stewardship Programmes (ASPs) and factors influencing their implementation in Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) hospitals. The findings of this study will provide hospitals and policy makers with evidence-based recommendations on how barriers to ASPs adoption can be overcome, which will ultimately improve antimicrobial use and reduce antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Method: A mixed method approach was carried out using both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with healthcare professionals in three Saudi hospitals to explore the enablers and barriers to their adoption of ASPs. A survey was then developed based on these findings to investigate the level of hospitals’ adoption of ASPs and factors influencing their implementation at a national level. Further, a case study using in-depth interviews was utilised to understand the process of ASP adoption in a Saudi hospital, and how adoption challenges were addressed. Finally, a self-administered questionnaire was used to examine patients’ knowledge and perceptions of antimicrobial use and resistance, and to evaluate the institutional role of patient education on antimicrobial use in two Saudi hospitals. The overall methodology of the research is summarised in Figure I. Results: Despite the introduction of a national ASP strategy, adoption of ASPs in Saudi MOH hospitals remains low. Organisational barriers such as the lack of senior management support, lack of supportive IT infrastructure and the shortage of ASP team members hinder hospitals’ efforts to adopt ASPs. Further barriers relate to the lack of formal enforcement by MOH and the physicians fears of patients' complications and clinical liability. Patients admitted to Saudi hospitals lack knowledge and perceptions of AMR, and the adoption of ASPs may improve hospitals’ role in patients' education. Conclusions: Despite the established benefits of ASPs, their adoption in Saudi MOH hospitals remains low. Urgent action is needed to address the strategies priorities associated with AMR, including access to antimicrobials, antimicrobial stewardship and education and research. Policy makers are urged to consider making ASPs adoption in hospitals a regulatory requirement supported by national guidelines and surveillance programmes. It is essential to increase the provision of ID and infection control residency and training programmes to meet the extreme shortage of ID physicians, pharmacists, microbiologists and infection control practitioners. Higher education institutions and teaching hospitals are required to introduce antimicrobial prescribing and stewardship competencies into undergraduate Medical, Pharmacy, Dental, Nursing and Veterinary curriculum, as well as introduction of AMR topics in order to increase knowledge and awareness of ASPs and AMR. Collaboration between ASPs adopting and non-adopting hospitals is essential to share implementation experience, strategies and solutions to overcome barriers. Healthcare specialised associations are needed to be part of AMR conversation and guide healthcare professionals’ training and accreditation. Multiple stakeholders should be actively part of the conversations around tacking AMR. Primary care, secondary care, community pharmacies and policy makers should strive to create a shared culture of responsibility among all healthcare partners to improve antimicrobial therapy and reduce risks of AMR.
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