Background: Conducted as part of the Driving Reinvestment in Research and Development and Responsible Antibiotic Use (DRIVE-AB) project, this study aimed to identify key elements for a global definition of responsible antibiotic use based on diverse stakeholder input.
Methods: A three-step RAND-modified Delphi method was applied. First, a systematic review of antibiotic stewardship literature and relevant organization web sites identified definitions and synonyms of responsible use. Identified elements of definitions were presented by questionnaire to a multidisciplinary international stakeholder panel for appraisal of their relevance. Finally, questionnaire results were discussed in a consensus meeting.
Results: The systematic review and the web site search identified 17 synonyms (e.g. appropriate, correct) and 22 potential elements to include in a definition of responsible use. Elements were grouped into patient-level (e.g. Indication, Documentation) or societal-level elements (e.g. Education, Future Effectiveness). Forty-eight stakeholders with diverse backgrounds [medical community, public health, patients, antibiotic research and development (R&D), regulators, governments] from 18 countries across all continents participated in the questionnaire. Based on relevance scores, 21 elements were retained, 9 were rephrased and 1 was added. Together, the 22 elements and associated best-practice descriptions comprise an exhaustive list of elements to be considered when defining responsible use.
Conclusions: Combination of concepts from the literature and stakeholder opinion led to an international multidisciplinary consensus on a global definition of responsible antibiotic use. The widely diverging perspectives of stakeholders providing input should ensure the comprehensiveness and relevance of the definition for both individual patients and society. An aspirational goal would be to address all elements.