National Centre for Antimicrobial Stewardship, Peter Doherty Research Institute for Infection and Immunity, Melbourne, VIC, Australia; University of Melbourne, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, Department of Medicine, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, VIC, Australia; Pharmacy Department, Ballarat Health Services, Ballarat, VIC, Australia. Electronic address: [Email]
BACKGROUND : Many regional and remote ('regional') hospitals are without the specialist services that support antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) programmes in hospitals in major cities. This can impact their ability to implement AMS activities. OBJECTIVE : To identify factors that impact on the delivery of AMS programmes in regional hospitals. METHODS : Healthcare clinicians who have primary AMS responsibilities or provide AMS support to a health service or across health services with an Australian Statistical Geography Standard Remoteness classification of inner regional, outer regional, remote or very remote were recruited purposively and via snowballing. A series of focus groups and interviews were held, and the discussions were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. The transcripts were coded by two researchers, and thematic analysis was undertaken using a framework method. RESULTS : Four focus groups and one interview were conducted (22 participants). Six main themes that impacted on AMS programme delivery were identified: culture of independence and self-reliance by local clinicians, personal relationships, geographical location of the hospital influencing antimicrobial choice, local context, inability to meaningfully benchmark performance, and lack of resources. Possible strategies to support the delivery of AMS programmes in regional hospitals proposed by participants were categorized into two main themes: those that may be best developed or managed centrally, and those that should be a local responsibility. CONCLUSIONS : AMS programme delivery in regional hospitals is influenced by factors that are not present in hospitals in major cities. These findings provide a strong basis for the development of strategies to support regional hospitals to implement sustainable AMS programmes.