Mixed-methods process evaluation of a respiratory-culture diagnostic stewardship intervention

Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2023 Feb;44(2):191-199. doi: 10.1017/ice.2022.299. Epub 2023 Jan 3.


Objective: To conduct a process evaluation of a respiratory culture diagnostic stewardship intervention.

Design: Mixed-methods study.

Setting: Tertiary-care pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).

Participants: Critical care, infectious diseases, and pulmonary attending physicians and fellows; PICU nurse practitioners and hospitalist physicians; pediatric residents; and PICU nurses and respiratory therapists.

Methods: This mixed-methods study was conducted concurrently with a diagnostic stewardship intervention to reduce the inappropriate collection of respiratory cultures in mechanically ventilated children. We quantified baseline respiratory culture utilization and indications for ordering using quantitative methods. Semistructured interviews informed by these data and the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR) were then performed, recorded, transcribed, and coded to identify salient themes. Finally, themes identified in these interviews were used to create a cross-sectional survey.

Results: The number of cultures collected per day of service varied between attending physicians (range, 2.2-27 cultures per 100 days). In total, 14 interviews were performed, and 87 clinicians completed the survey (response rate, 47%) and 77 nurses or respiratory therapists completed the survey (response rate, 17%). Clinicians varied in their stated practices regarding culture ordering, and these differences both clustered by specialty and were associated with perceived utility of the respiratory culture. Furthermore, group "default" practices, fear, and hierarchy were drivers of culture orders. Barriers to standardization included fear of a missed diagnosis and tension between practice standardization and individual decision making.

Conclusions: We identified significant variation in utilization and perceptions of respiratory cultures as well as several key barriers to implementation of this diagnostic test stewardship intervention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Critical Care
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric
  • Physicians*