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Open Access Research article

How do hospital professionals involved in a randomised controlled trial perceive the value of genotyping vs. PCR-ribotyping for control of hospital acquired C. difficile infections?

Ala Szczepura12*, Susan Manzoor3, Katherine Hardy45, Nigel Stallard1, Helen Parsons1, Savita Gossain5 and Peter M Hawkey45

Author Affiliations

1 Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK

2 Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, University of Coventry, Coventry, UK

3 Research and Development, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham B9 5SS, UK

4 School of Immunity and Infection, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

5 Public Health Laboratory Birmingham, Public Health England, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham B9 5SS, UK

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2014, 14:154  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-154

Published: 21 March 2014

Abstract

Background

Despite scientific advances in typing of C. difficile strains very little is known about how hospital staff use typing results during periods of increased incidence (PIIs). This qualitative study, undertaken alongside a randomised controlled trial (RCT), explored this issue. The trial compared ribotyping versus more rapid genotyping (MLVA or multilocus variable repeat analysis) and found no significant difference in post 48 hour cases (C difficile transmissions).

Methods

In-depth qualitative interviews with senior staff in 11/16 hospital trusts in the trial (5 MLVA and 6 Ribotyping). Semi-structured interviews were conducted at end of the trial period. Transcripts were content analysed using framework analysis supported by NVivo-8 software. Common sub-themes were extracted by two researchers independently. These were compared and organised into over-arching categories or ‘super-ordinate themes’.

Results

The trial recorded that 45% of typing tests had some impact on infection control (IC) activities. Interviews indicated that tests had little impact on initial IC decisions. These were driven by hospital protocols and automatically triggered when a PII was identified. To influence decision-making, a laboratory turnaround time < 3 days (ideally 24 hours) was suggested; MLVA turnaround time was 5.3 days. Typing results were predominantly used to modify initiated IC activities such as ward cleaning, audits of practice or staff training; major decisions (e.g. ward closure) were unaffected. Organisational factors could limit utilisation of MLVA results. Results were twice as likely to be reported as ‘aiding management’ (indirect benefit) than impacting on IC activities (direct effect). Some interviewees considered test results provided reassurance about earlier IC decisions; others identified secondary benefits on organisational culture. An underlying benefit of improved discrimination provided by MLVA typing was the ability to explore epidemiology associated with CDI cases in a hospital more thoroughly.

Conclusions

Ribotyping and MLVA are both valued by users. MLVA had little additional direct impact on initial infection control decisions. This would require reduced turnaround time. The major impact is adjustments to earlier IC measures and retrospective reassurance. For this, turnaround time is less important than discriminatory power. The potential remains for wider use of genotyping to examine transmission routes.

Keywords:
Hospital infection control; C. difficile tests; Ribotyping; MLVA sub-typing; Value of test information; Staff attitudes