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Can J Surg. 2009 Dec;52(6):481-9.

Factors influencing antibiotic prophylaxis for surgical site infection prevention in general surgery: a review of the literature.

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Toronto General Research Institute, University Health Network, University of Toronto, Toronto ON M5G 2C4.



Surgical site infections (SSIs) are common surgical complications that can be prevented with antibiotic prophylaxis. Research shows poor adherence to guidelines for this practice. We conducted a scoping review to identify factors or interventions that influence antibiotic prophylaxis administration.


An investigator with informatics training searched indexed (MEDLINE, Cochrane Library) and nonindexed (Internet) sources from January 1996 to February 2007. Selected studies were English-language, peer-reviewed, quantitative or qualitative studies describing factors or interventions influencing adherence to SSI-prevention guidelines or SSI rates in general surgery. Two investigators independently reviewed citations and full-text articles and extracted data, and met to compare selections or data and resolve differences through discussion. We extracted data on type of surgery, study design, intervention or factors examined and key findings. We then examined the quantity and type of studies and their findings.


Nineteen of 192 studies met the eligibility criteria. Seven studies investigated predictors of appropriate antibiotic use through descriptive or exploratory means. Twelve evaluated adherence to antibiotic prophylaxis recommendations by comparing patient cohorts before and after the introduction of quality-improvement strategies. Individual knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and practice; team communication and allocation of responsibilities; and institutional support for promoting and monitoring practice appear to influence practice.


Larger and multisite studies included in our review favour implementation of multidisciplinary pathways, individualized performance data and written or computerized order sets as quality-improvement strategies, but further research is warranted to more rigorously evaluate the effectiveness of these strategies on antibiotic prophylaxis practice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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