Strategies Used for Implementing and Promoting Adherence to Antibiotic Guidelines in Low- and Lower-Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review

Trop Med Infect Dis. 2021 Sep 13;6(3):166. doi: 10.3390/tropicalmed6030166.


Containing antimicrobial resistance and reducing high levels of antibiotic consumption in low- and lower middle-income countries are a major challenge. Clinical guidelines targeting antibiotic prescribing can reduce consumption, however, the degrees to which clinical guidelines are adopted and adhered to are challenging for developers, policy makers and users. The aim of this study was to review the strategies used for implementing and promoting antibiotic guideline adherence in low- and lower middle-income countries. A review of published literature was conducted using PubMed, Cochrane Library, SCOPUS and the information systems of the World Health Organization and the Australian National University according to PRISMA guidelines and our PROSPERO protocol. The strategies were grouped into five broad categories based on the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organization of Care taxonomy. The 33 selected studies, representing 16 countries varied widely in design, setting, disease focus, methods, intervention components, outcomes and effects. The majority of interventions were multifaceted and resulted in a positive direction of effect. The nature of the interventions and study variability made it impossible to tease out which strategies had the greatest impact on improving CG compliance. Audit and feedback coupled with either workshops and/or focus group discussions were the most frequently used intervention components. All the reported strategies are established practices used in antimicrobial stewardship programs in high-income countries. We recommend interrupted time series studies be used as an alternative design to pre- and post-intervention studies, information about the clinical guidelines be made more transparent, and prescriber confidence be investigated.

Keywords: antibiotics; antimicrobial resistance; antimicrobial stewardship; clinical guidelines; low- and lower-middle-income countries; prescribing practices.

Publication types

  • Review