Management practices for leaders to promote infection prevention: Lessons from a qualitative study

Am J Infect Control. 2021 May;49(5):536-541. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2020.09.001. Epub 2020 Sep 24.


Background: Prevention of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) is critical to reduce preventable deaths and healthcare costs. Variable success with HAI prevention efforts has suggested that management practices are critical to support clinical infection prevention practices. This study examined hospital leaders' management practices around the prevention of catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) and central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) to identify actions that leaders can take to promote HAI prevention efforts.

Methods: We conducted interviews with 420 key informants, including managers and frontline staff, in 18 hospitals across the United States. Interviewees were asked about management practices supporting HAI prevention. We analyzed interview transcripts using rigorous qualitative methods to understand how management practices were operationalized in infection prevention efforts.

Results: Across hospitals and interviewees, three management practices were characterized as important facilitators of HAI prevention: (1) engagement of executive leadership; (2) information sharing; and (3) manager coaching. We found that visible executive leadership, efficient communication, and frequent opportunities to provide and promote learning from feedback were perceived to promote and sustain HAI prevention efforts.

Conclusions: Our findings provide insight into management practices for leaders that support successful HAI prevention. In practice, these tactics may need to be adjusted to accommodate the current restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to maintain HAI prevention efforts as a priority.

Keywords: Communication; Healthcare-associated infections; Leadership; Qualitative methods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • Communication*
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / economics
  • Infection Control / statistics & numerical data
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Leadership*
  • Pandemics / prevention & control*
  • Qualitative Research
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • United States