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Barriers and bridges to infection prevention and control in the Netherlands and Canada: two comparative case studies Open Access


Other title
Socio-ecological approach
infection prevention and control
Multidrug-resistant organisms
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Backman, Chantal
Supervisor and department
Marck, Patricia Beryl (Nursing)
Examining committee member and department
Barton, Sylvia (Nursing)
Stone, Patricia W. (Nursing)
Krogman, Naomi (Rural Economy)
Sales, Anne (Nursing)
Taylor, Geoffrey (Medicine and Dentistry)
Faculty of Nursing

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
The overall aim of this research was to explore why some hospitals are more successful than others at reducing the acquisition rates of multidrug-resistant organisms. Using a socio-ecological perspective on health systems adapted from works in ecological restoration, ecosystems management, and healthcare, a participatory comparative case study design was employed. The study was collaboratively conducted on a surgical unit at a Netherlands hospital with very low rates of multidrug-resistant organisms and a surgical unit in a Canadian hospital with higher rates of these pathogens. The cases were selected on the basis that they were both academic health sciences centres of similar size in publicly funded systems; yet, they reported differing rates of MDRO infections. Research methods included a total of six unit observations, nine practitioner-led photo walkabouts of the units (n=13), six photo elicitation focus groups with practitioners (n=26), and the review of relevant policies and procedures and related infection prevention and control data. Common findings across both cases include the perceived importance of engaged leadership, the presence of environmental design issues, a lack of antibiotic prescribing restrictions, and the frequent use of workarounds that may be problematic for infection prevention and control. Disparate findings between cases include differences in ratios of hospital beds per capita, bed occupancy rates, staffing practices, equipment cleaning processes, bed cleaning systems (centralized versus manual) and the presence, in one hospital, of an active grass roots Hygiene in Practice group engaging practitioners in several ongoing activities to promote infection prevention and control. There is a lack of comparable findings between the two cases on hand hygiene audit protocols, surveillance strategies, reporting of acquisition rates, and the nature and extent of high risk populations for community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in the two hospitals’ catchment areas. The findings and methodological challenges identified in this study suggest that case selection in future comparative infection prevention and control case studies should be based on an expanded list of criteria. These criteria should include comparable audits, surveillance, and reporting practices and comparable demographic and other relevant data, such as data on the agricultural practices within and demographic attributes of vulnerable populations within the hospital catchment areas.
License granted by Chantal Backman ( on 2011-02-11T02:47:17Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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