Essential components of a definition for early antibiotic treatment failure: A scoping review

PLoS One. 2023 Jun 23;18(6):e0283417. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0283417. eCollection 2023.


Background: Despite the broad global use of antibiotics, there is no established definition of early antibiotic treatment failure (EATF) to aid clinical evaluation of treatment, which leads to inconsistent assessments of drug effectiveness.

Aim: This scoping review aims to identify common components of EATF definitions by synthesizing studies mentioning EATF and its relevant thesaurus matches.

Design: Scoping review.

Methods: This scoping review was conducted following the PRISMA Scoping review guidelines. A systematic literature search was conducted using MEDLINE (PubMed), CENTRAL, CINAHL, and Web of Science, as well as a manual Google search. Search terms were EATF and its thesaurus matches. After removing duplications, candidate studies were screened by title and abstract prior to full text searches, and quality analysis was performed on eligible studies using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme. From each eligible study, the timing of evaluation, basic components, and detailed information for each definition of EATF were collected. The components of each definition for EATF were then summarized and counted, and finally the most common essential components were identified.

Results: Our systematic literature search found 2,472 candidate studies. After title and abstract screening, full text search and quality assessment, 61 studies, including 56 original studies and five reviews, were eligible for our analysis. Of these 56 original studies, 43 mentioned the timing of EATF evaluation 72 hours after the start of treatment with antibiotics. From these 43 studies, the most common indicators of EATF were extracted, among which a set of essential components for a definition of EATF were identified: mortality, vital signs, fever, symptoms, and additional treatment.

Conclusions: Our scoping review uncovered five essential factors for EATF. Further study is needed to evaluate the validity of our findings.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Failure
  • Vocabulary, Controlled*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents

Grants and funding

The authors received no specific funding for this work.