Research paper|Articles in Press

Nursing experiences in antimicrobial optimisation in the intensive care unit: A convergent analysis of a national survey

Published:November 17, 2022DOI:



      Recent evidence highlights the need for an interdisciplinary approach to antimicrobial stewardship (AMS). Nursing involvement in optimising antimicrobials in the intensive care unit (ICU) remains understudied.


      The objective of this study was to explore nurses' perceptions and experiences of antimicrobial optimisation or stewardship in ICUs in Australia.


      An anonymous web-based survey was deployed nationally in early 2021 through two ICU nursing networks. Associations between survey responses were analysed descriptively and by using nonparametric tests (with statistical significance established at p ≤ 0.05). Free-text survey responses underwent qualitative thematic analysis. Interpretation and reporting of quantitative and qualitative data were integrated.


      A total of 226 ICU nurses completed the survey. The majority (197/226; 87%) responded that lack of education limits engagement in AMS. Only 13% (30/226) reported the presence of AMS education and training for nurses in their ICUs. Only about half (108/226; 48%) of the nurses were confident to question prescribers when they considered that the antimicrobial prescribed was unnecessary, with nurses in senior roles more likely to do so than nurses providing bedside care (p < 0.05). Gaps in education (including unfamiliarity with AMS roles), noninclusive antimicrobial discussions, moral distress, and potential workload burden were seen as potential barriers/challenges to engagement.


      The multifactorial barriers identified that inhibit nurses from performing AMS tasks could be addressed by strengthening interprofessional education at all levels and by applying practical AMS interventions that are inclusive for nursing participation. A purposeful culture change that fosters psychological safety and collaborative practice is paramount to supporting nurses in these roles.


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