Background: The field called "infection control" has expanded beyond hospitals to include many health care locations, some aspects of personnel health, elements of noninfectious complications, and occasionally the epidemiology of other problems that occur in care facilities. A research agenda that addresses these newer segments and provides a framework for answering fundamental questions is essential for the field and for the work of The Research Foundation for Prevention of Complications Associated with Health Care (formerly APIC Research Foundation).
Methods: We used a multiple-round iterative consensus process (Delphi technique) with 50 experts and a validation round among participants at the 4th Decennial Conference.
Results: The expert panel reduced 102 separate items to 21 high-ranked research priorities. The highest-ranked subject areas involved research to improve compliance with excellent practices, to study antibiotic usage and resistance, to measure the financial impact of complications and value of interventions, to perform surveillance of infectious and noninfectious complications across the spectrum of care delivery, and to study effectiveness of interventions to prevent complications at specific sites. There were differences in education and discipline between the expert panel and the 4th Decennial participants and with respect to ranking some of the individual priorities. Among respondents from outside the United States and Canada, occupational health issues were ranked more highly.
Conclusions: The research priorities provide a blueprint for future progress and will require a collaborative, multicenter, multinational approach.