N-of-1 Trials of Antimicrobial Stewardship Interventions to Optimize Antibiotic Prescribing for Upper Respiratory Tract Infection in Emergency Departments: Protocol for a Quasi-Experimental Study

JMIR Res Protoc. 2024 Feb 21:13:e50417. doi: 10.2196/50417.


Background: Antimicrobial stewardship programs attempting to optimize antibiotic therapy and clinical outcomes mainly focus on inpatient and outpatient settings. The lack of antimicrobial stewardship program studies in the emergency department (ED) represents a gap in tackling the problem of antimicrobial resistance as EDs treat a substantial number of upper respiratory tract infection cases throughout the year.

Objective: We intend to implement two evidence-based interventions: (1) patient education and (2) providing physician feedback on their prescribing rates. We will incorporate evidence from a literature review and contextualizing the interventions based on findings from a local qualitative study.

Methods: Our study uses a quasi-experimental design to evaluate the effects of interventions over time in the EDs of 4 public hospitals in Singapore. We will include an initial control period of 18 months. In the next 6 months, we will randomize 2 EDs to receive 1 intervention (ie, patient education) and the other 2 EDs to receive the alternative intervention (ie, physician feedback). All EDs will receive the second intervention in the subsequent 6 months on top of the ongoing intervention. Data will be collected for another 6 months to assess the persistence of the intervention effects. The information leaflets will be handed to patients at the EDs before they consult with the physician, while feedback to individual physicians by senior doctors is in the form of electronic text messages. The feedback will contain the physicians' antibiotic prescribing rate compared with the departments' overall antibiotic prescribing rate and a bite-size message on good antibiotic prescribing practices.

Results: We will analyze the data using segmented regression with difference-in-difference estimation to account for concurrent cluster comparisons.

Conclusions: Our proposed study assesses the effectiveness of evidence-based, context-specific interventions to optimize antibiotic prescribing in EDs. These interventions are aligned with Singapore's national effort to tackle antimicrobial resistance and can be scaled up if successful.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT05451863; https://clinicaltrials.gov/study/NCT05451836.

International registered report identifier (irrid): DERR1-10.2196/50417.

Keywords: N-of-1 trials; Singapore; URTI; antibiotic; antibiotic resistance; antibiotic therapy; antibiotics; antimicrobial stewardship; antimicrobials; emergency; emergency department; evidence-based; evidence-based intervention; experimental study; feedback; hospital; patient education; patient literacy; prescribing feedback; prescribing rates; regression; regression analysis; respiratory; upper respiratory tract; upper respiratory tract infection.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT05451836