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16.03.2018 | Original Contributions | Ausgabe 3/2019

Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie 3/2019

Perspectives on multidrug-resistant organisms at the end of life

A focus group study of staff members and institutional stakeholders

Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie > Ausgabe 3/2019
Dr. phil. Franziska A. Herbst, Maria Heckel, Johanna M. Tiedtke, Thomas Adelhardt, Alexander Sturm, Stephanie Stiel, Christoph Ostgathe



There is a lack of research into how hospital staff and institutional stakeholders (i. e. institutional representatives from public health authorities, hospital hygiene, and the departments of microbiology, palliative care, and geriatrics) engage with patients who are carriers of multidrug-resistant organisms and receiving end-of-life care. Knowledge of their experiences, workload, and needs should be considered in dealing with hospitalized carriers of multidrug-resistant organisms as well as staff education.


This study explored and compared staff members’ and stakeholders’ perspectives on multidrug-resistant organisms and on provision of end-of-life care to carrier patients.


In this study four focus groups consisting of hospital staff members and institutional stakeholders were formed within a mixed-methods parent study in a palliative care unit at a university clinic and a geriatric ward of a Catholic and academic teaching hospital. Participants discussed results from staff and stakeholder interviews from a former study phase. Data were analyzed according to Grounded Theory and perspectives of staff members and institutional stakeholders were compared and contrasted.


Key issues debated by staff members (N = 19) and institutional stakeholders (N = 10) were 1) the additional workload, 2) reasons for uncertainty about handling carrier patients, 3) the format of continuing education, and 4) the preferred management approach for dealing with multidrug-resistant organism carrier patients. Although similar barriers (e. g. colleagues’ ambiguous opinions) were identified, both groups drew different conclusions concerning the management of these barriers. While institutional stakeholders recommended making decisions on hygiene measures under consideration of the specific patient situation, staff members preferred the use of standardized hygiene measures which should be applied uniformly to all patients.


Staff members and institutional stakeholders perceived similar barriers to practice caused by multidrug-resistant organisms and similar needs for continuing education. The staff members’ preferred management approach might originate from an uncertainty about the multidrug-resistant organism infection risk. Experiences and visions of both groups should be included in a specific recommendation for end-of-life care to ensure behavioral confidence.

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