Clinical decision support systems and antibiotic use

Nada Atef Shebl, Bryony Dean Franklin, Nick Barber

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Aim To review and appraise randomised controlled trials (RCT) and 'before and after' studies published on clinical decision support systems (CDSS) used to support the use of antibiotics. Methods A literature search. was carried out in October 2006 using MEDLINE including Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) terms (1966-2006), EMBASE (Excerpta Medica, 1980-2006) and International Pharmaceutical Abstracts (IPA, 1970-2006) using the combinations of the following terms: (Decision support systems) or (CDSS) AND (antibiotics) or (anti-infectives) or (antibacterials) or (antimicrobials). Only English language papers were selected. Editorials, letters and case reports/series were excluded. The reference sections of all retrieved articles were also searched for any further relevant articles. Results Forty articles were identified. Five RCT and six 'before and after' studies were retrieved. In the RCTs, three studies used computer-based CDSS, one paper-based CDSS and one a combination of both. Two studies were conducted in primary care and three within secondary care. The primary outcomes for each study were different and only three studies were significant in the favour of the use of CDSS. 'Before and after' studies were used where RCT were Dot feasible. One 'before and after' study was excluded because it did not include any control group. The remaining five included historical control groups and evaluated the use of computer-based CDSS within secondary care. Their primary outcomes also varied but all concluded significant, benefits of CDSS. Only three of ten studies were conducted outside the USA; one in Switzerland and two in Australia. Conclusion CDSS could be a powerful tool to improve clinical care and patient outcomes. It presents a promising future for optimising antibiotic use. However, it is difficult to generalise as most studies were conducted in the United States. Although RCT are the 'gold standard' in research, they may not be feasible to conduct. Realising that different study designs answer different questions would allow researchers to choose the most appropriate study design to evaluate CDSS in a specified setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-349
Number of pages8
JournalPharmacy World and Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2007


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