National Cohort Study of Homebound Persons Living With Dementia: Antibiotic Prescribing Trends and Opportunities for Antibiotic Stewardship

Open Forum Infect Dis. 2022 Sep 3;9(9):ofac453. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofac453. eCollection 2022 Sep.


Background: Over 7 million older Americans are homebound. Managing infections in homebound persons presents unique challenges that are magnified among persons living with dementia (PLWD). This work sought to characterize antibiotic use in a national cohort of PLWD who received home-based primary care (HBPC) through the Veterans Health Administration.

Methods: Administrative data identified veterans aged ≥65 years with ≥2 physician home visits in a year between 2014 and 2018 and a dementia diagnosis 3 years before through 1 year after their initial HBPC visit. Antibiotics prescribed orally, intravenously, intramuscularly, or by enema within 3 days of an HBPC visit were assessed from the initial HBPC visit to death or December 31, 2018. Prescription fills and days of therapy (DOT) per 1000 days of home care (DOHC) were calculated.

Results: Among 39 861 PLWD, the median age (interquartile range [IQR]) was 85 (78-90) years, and 15.0% were Black. Overall, 16 956 (42.5%) PLWD received 45 122 prescription fills. The antibiotic use rate was 20.7 DOT per 1000 DOHC. Telephone visits and advanced practice provider visits were associated with 30.9% and 42.0% of fills, respectively. Sixty-seven percent of fills were associated with diagnoses for conditions where antibiotics are not indicated. Quinolones were the most prescribed class (24.3% of fills). The overall median length of therapy (IQR) was 7 (7-10) days. Antibiotic use rates varied across regions. Within regions, the median annual antibiotic use rate decreased from 2014 to 2018.

Conclusions: Antibiotic prescriptions were prevalent in HBPC. The scope, appropriateness, and harms of antibiotic use in homebound PLWD need further investigation.

Keywords: antibacterial agents; antimicrobial stewardship; dementia; home care services.