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Background. Antimicrobial drugs in veterinary medical practice are primarily prescribed for the purposes of maintaining or improving health and increasing productivity. However, their value is being eroded by antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Indiscriminate use of antimicrobial drugs is suggested as one of the modifiable factors contributing to the development of AMR. To reduce indiscriminate use and to improve antimicrobial use, veterinary practices are encouraged to adopt good stewardship practices. Therefore, the objectives of this study were: to identify factors influencing clinician decisions to begin using antimicrobials as well as the choice of antimicrobials used at The University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical Center (UTVMC); to evaluate the practices, perceptions, opinions and concerns of veterinary clinicians at UTVMC concerning antimicrobial use, antimicrobial stewardship, and AMR.
Methods. This study’s protocol was approved by the University of Tennessee Knoxville IRB for the Protection of Human Subjects in Research. Survey software was used to send a questionnaire to 121 eligible participants, where all were UTVMC faculty with clinical appointments and house officers. Cumulative logit models were fitted to investigate associations between categorical explanatory variables and ordinal response variables.
Results. A response rate of 51.24% was achieved. Of the 62 respondents, 47 (75.81%) reported that bacteriological culture and antimicrobial susceptibility test results were extremely important in their antimicrobial prescription decision-making. Thirty-two (51.61%) respondents believed antimicrobials are being over-prescribed. The cephalosporin class was the most preferred antimicrobial class, while the lincosamide class was the least preferred. From the multivariable cumulative logit model, year of graduation from veterinary school (P = 0.034) and clinicians’ primary patient load (P = 0.009) were significantly associated with clinicians’ degree of concern about AMR.
Conclusions and clinical relevance. The findings suggest a need for more awareness about AMR among veterinary clinicians. Improvements in antimicrobial stewardship are needed, especially among veterinary clinicians who graduated after 1999. Educational practices that target modification of antimicrobial prescription practices of veterinary clinicians would likely improve a Good Stewardship Practice (GSP) mindset. GSP is important in prolonging the efficacy of currently available antimicrobial drugs.