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PLoS One. 2019 Oct 4;14(10):e0223594. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0223594. eCollection 2019.

Vaccination status of patients using anti-TNF therapy and the physicians' behavior shaping the phenomenon: Mixed-methods approach.

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Department of Clinical Pharmacy, College of Pharmacy, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.



Anti-tumor necrosis factor (Anti-TNF) therapy improves the prognosis and reduces the morbidity and mortality associated with many chronic inflammatory autoimmune diseases. However, as it is linked to an increased infection risk, appropriate vaccination is required. The study aimed at investigating the vaccination status of patients receiving Anti-TNF therapy and physicians' perceptions of and views about vaccinating these patients.


A sequential explanatory mixed-methods approach was used. The study comprised a quantitative, retrospective drug utilization review for determining institutional consumption of Anti-TNF therapy and an assessment of vaccination status in patients prescribed Anti-TNF therapy to audit physicians' adherence to Anti-TNF therapy-related vaccination recommendations. Patient data from electronic medical records (EMRs) obtained from tertiary care hospitals between September 2015 and September 2017 were used. Further, a qualitative study using a phenomenographic approach with semi-structured interviews of 12 physicians was carried out to explore the physicians' perceptions, views, and recommendations of vaccinating patients who are undergoing Anti-TNF therapy and identifying factors that may cause poor adherence to vaccination recommendations.


Forty-three of 310 patients receiving Anti-TNF therapy were vaccinated. Infliximab was the most frequently prescribed agent, accounting for 96.7% of total orders. Eight of the 12 physicians stated that they were aware of vaccination guidelines and seven viewed pre-Anti-TNF therapy vaccination as essential because of the high infection risk and claimed to incorporate it in their daily practice. Barriers to adherence included ignorance of recommendations, workload, vaccine unavailability, and advanced disease state.


Although the recommendations published by professional medical societies emphasized the importance of vaccination before initiating Anti-TNF therapy, few patients were vaccinated. Medical administration in hospitals should develop policies, procedures, and guidelines for vaccination; implement education programs for physicians and patients and procure vaccines in a timely way to improve their use.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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