Numbers and narratives: how qualitative methods can strengthen the science of paediatric antimicrobial stewardship

JAC Antimicrob Resist. 2022 Jan 22;4(1):dlab195. doi: 10.1093/jacamr/dlab195. eCollection 2022 Mar.


Antimicrobial and diagnostic stewardship initiatives have become increasingly important in paediatric settings. The value of qualitative approaches to conduct stewardship work in paediatric patients is being increasingly recognized. This article seeks to provide an introduction to basic elements of qualitative study designs and provide an overview of how these methods have successfully been applied to both antimicrobial and diagnostic stewardship work in paediatric patients. A multidisciplinary team of experts in paediatric infectious diseases, paediatric critical care and qualitative methods has written a perspective piece introducing readers to qualitative stewardship work in children, intended as an overview to highlight the importance of such methods and as a starting point for further work. We describe key differences between qualitative and quantitative methods, and the potential benefits of qualitative approaches. We present examples of qualitative research in five discrete topic areas of high relevance for paediatric stewardship work: provider attitudes; provider prescribing behaviours; stewardship in low-resource settings; parents' perspectives on stewardship; and stewardship work focusing on select high-risk patients. Finally, we explore the opportunities for multidisciplinary academic collaboration, incorporation of innovative scientific disciplines and young investigator growth through the use of qualitative research in paediatric stewardship. Qualitative approaches can bring rich insights and critically needed new information to antimicrobial and diagnostic stewardship efforts in children. Such methods are an important tool in the armamentarium against worsening antimicrobial resistance, and a major opportunity for investigators interested in moving the needle forward for stewardship in paediatric patients.

Publication types

  • Review