Health care providers' perceptions regarding antimicrobial stewardship programs (AMS) implementation - facilitators and challenges: a cross-sectional study in the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia.
Background: Infections result from invasions of an organism into body tissues leading to diseases and complications that might eventually lead to death. Inappropriate use of antimicrobials has led to development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) which has been associated with increased mortality, morbidity and health costs. Antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) programs are designed to ensure appropriate selections of an effective antimicrobial drugs and optimizing antibiotic use to minimize antibiotic resistance by implementing certain policies, strategies and guidelines. The aim of this study was to investigate practitioners' perceptions regarding AMS implementation and to identify challenges and facilitators of these programs execution. Methods: Cross-sectional study among health care providers in Eastern province of Saudi Arabia Hospitals. The data was collected using a survey including questions about demographic data and information about clinicians' (physicians, pharmacists and nurses) previous experience with AMS and prescribing of antibiotics, the level of knowledge and attitudes regarding AMS programs' implementation. Results: More than 50% of clinicians (N=184) reported lack of awareness of AMS programs and their components, whereas 71.2% do not have previous AMS experience. The majority of clinicians (72.3%) noticed increasing number of AMR infections over the past 5 years and (69.6%) were involved in care of patients with an antibiotic-resistant infection. Around 77.2% of respondents reported that formulary management can be helpful for AMS practice and majority of respondents (79.9%) reported that the availability of pathogens and antimicrobial susceptibility testing can be helpful for AMS. Major barriers to AMS implementation identified were lack of internal policy/guidelines and specialized AMS information resources. Lack of administrative awareness about AMS programs; lack of personnel, time limitation, limited training opportunities, lack of confidence, financial issue or limited funding and lack of specialized AMS information resources were also reported 65.8%, 62.5%, 60.9%, 73.9%, 50%, 54.3 and 74.5%, respectively. Conclusion: Our study identified comprehensive education and training needs for health care providers about AMS programs. Furthermore, it appears that internal policy and guidelines need revision to ensure that the health care providers work consistently with AMS. Future research must focus on the benefit of implementing AMS as many hospitals are not implementing AMS as revealed by the clinicians. We recommend policy makers and concerned health authorities to consider the study findings into account to optimize AMS implementation.