Factors influencing antibiotic-prescribing decisions among inpatient physicians: A qualitative investigation

Daniel Livorsi, Amber Comer, Marianne Matthias, Eli N. Perencevich, Matthew Bair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Scopus citations

Abstract

objective. To understand the professional and psychosocial factors that influence physician antibiotic prescribing habits in the inpatient setting. design. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 30 inpatient physicians. Interviews consisted of open-ended questions and flexible probes based on participant responses. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed, de-identified, and reviewed for accuracy and completeness. Data were analyzed using emergent thematic analysis. setting. Two teaching hospitals in Indianapolis, Indiana participants. A total of 30 inpatient physicians (10 physicians-in-training, 20 supervising staff) were enrolled in this study. results. Participants recognized that antibiotics are overused, and many admitted to prescribing antibiotics even when the clinical evidence of infection was uncertain. Overprescription was largely driven by anxiety about missing an infection, whereas potential adverse effects of antibiotics did not strongly influence decision making. Participants did not routinely disclose potential adverse effects of antibiotics to inpatients. Physicians-in-training were strongly influenced by the antibiotic prescribing behavior of their supervising staff physicians. Participants sometimes questioned their colleagues’ antibiotic prescribing decisions, but they frequently avoided providing direct feedback or critique. These physicians cited obstacles of hierarchy, infrequent face-to-face encounters, and the awkwardness of these conversations. conclusion. A physician-based culture of prescribing antibiotics involves overusing antibiotics and not challenging the decisions of colleagues. The potential adverse effects of antibiotics did not strongly influence decision making in this sample. A better understanding of these factors could be leveraged in future efforts to improve antibiotic prescribing practices in the inpatient setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1065-1072
Number of pages8
JournalInfection Control and Hospital Epidemiology
Volume36
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Epidemiology
  • Infectious Diseases

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