Exploring the practice, confidence and educational needs of hospital pharmacists in reviewing antimicrobial prescribing: a cross-sectional, nationwide survey

Sharmila Khumra, Andrew A. Mahony, Phillip J. Bergen, Amy T. Page, Rohan A. Elliott

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Background: Antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) programs are usually limited in resources and scope. Therefore, wider engagement of hospital pharmacists in reviewing antimicrobial orders is necessary to ensure appropriate prescribing. We assessed hospital pharmacists’ self-reported practice and confidence in reviewing antimicrobial prescribing, and their knowledge in making AMS interventions. 

Methods: We conducted an Australia-wide, cross-sectional survey in October 2017. A link to the online survey was emailed to hospital pharmacists via the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia. Factors associated with higher knowledge scores were explored using linear regression models. 

Results: There were 439 respondents, of whom 272 (61.7%) were from metropolitan public hospitals. Pharmacists were more likely to assess the appropriateness of intravenous, broad-spectrum or restricted antibiotics than narrow-spectrum, oral antibiotics within 24–72 h of prescription; p < 0.001. Fifty percent or fewer respondents were confident in identifying AMS interventions related to dose optimization based on infection-specific factors, bug-drug mismatch, and inappropriate lack of spectra of antimicrobial activity. The median knowledge score (correct answers to knowledge questions) was 6 out of 9 (interquartile range, 5–7); key gaps were noted in antimicrobials’ anaerobic spectrum, beta-lactam allergy assessment and dosing in immunocompromised patients. Clinical practice in inpatient areas, registration for 3–5 years and receipt of recent AMS education were associated with higher knowledge scores. More interactive modes of education delivery were preferred over didactic modes; p ≤ 0.01. 

Conclusion: Gaps in practice, confidence and knowledge among hospital pharmacists were identified that could inform the design of educational strategies to help improve antimicrobial prescribing in Australian hospitals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number235
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Antimicrobial stewardship
  • Australia
  • Education
  • Knowledge
  • Pharmacists
  • Survey

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