Antimicrobial stewardship by Australian community pharmacists: Uptake, collaboration, challenges, and needs

Sajal K. Saha, David C.M. Kong, Karin Thursky, Danielle Mazza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To assess community pharmacists’ (CPs’) awareness and uptake of evidence-based antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) strategies, attitudes toward collaboration with general practitioners (GPs), and needs to improve AMS practices. Methods: A nationwide survey of randomly sampled community pharmacies across Australia was conducted in April-October 2019. Results: The response rate of CPs was 30.7% (613 of 2000) and 592 participating CPs (96.5%) described the key barriers to and facilitators of improving AMS. CPs (447 of 613, 72.9%) were familiar with AMS but felt that they would require training (468 of 612, 76.5%) and access to AMS practice guidelines (566 of 605, 93.6%). Respondents perceived that AMS programs could reduce the inappropriate use of antimicrobials (409 of 612, 66.8%) and the costs of treating infection (508 of 612, 83.0%). CPs often counseled patients (591 of 609, 97.0%) and reviewed drug interactions or allergies (569 of 607, 93.8%) before dispensing antimicrobials. Respondents less often used the national Therapeutic Guidelines: Antibiotic (274 of 602, 45.5%) or assessed guideline-compliance of prescribed antimicrobials (231 of 609, 37.9%). CPs were less likely to communicate with GPs (254 of 609, 41.8%) when an antimicrobial prescription was believed to be suboptimal and perceived that GPs are not receptive to their intervention regarding the antimicrobial choice (500 of 606, 82.6%) and dosage (416 of 606, 68.6%). Point-of-care tests (114 of 596, 19.1%) and patient information leaflets (149 of 608, 24.5%) were used uncommonly. Most respondents supported policies that could foster GP-pharmacist collaboration (560 of 606, 92.4%), limit accessibility of selected antimicrobials (420 of 604, 74.4%), and reduce repeat-dispensing of antimicrobial prescriptions (448 of 604, 74.2%). CPs faced interpersonal, interactional, structural, and resource-level barriers to collaborate with GPs for practicing AMS. Conclusions: CPs are aware of the importance of sensible use of antimicrobials but have had limited training and resources to conduct AMS activities. Improving GPs’ receptiveness and system structures for increased GP-CP collaboration seem to be a priority to accelerate CP-led AMS implementation. Further study is required to understand the views of stakeholders about the feasibility of implementing evidence-based GP-CP collaborative AMS approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-168
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Pharmacists Association
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Antimicrobial stewardship by Australian community pharmacists: Uptake, collaboration, challenges, and needs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this