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Background Antibiotic misuse is a key contributor to antimicrobial resistance and a concern in long-term aged care facilities (LTCFs). Our objectives were to: i) summarise key indicators of systemic antibiotic use and appropriateness of use, and ii) examine temporal and regional variations in antibiotic use, in LTCFs (PROSPERO registration CRD42018107125). Methods & findings Medline and EMBASE were searched for studies published between 1990–2021 reporting antibiotic use rates in LTCFs. Random effects meta-analysis provided pooled estimates of antibiotic use rates (percentage of residents on an antibiotic on a single day [point prevalence] and over 12 months [period prevalence]; percentage of appropriate prescriptions). Meta-regression examined associations between antibiotic use, year of measurement and region. A total of 90 articles representing 78 studies from 39 countries with data between 1985–2019 were included. Pooled estimates of point prevalence and 12-month period prevalence were 5.2% (95% CI: 3.3–7.9; n = 523,171) and 62.0% (95% CI: 54.0–69.3; n = 946,127), respectively. Point prevalence varied significantly between regions (Q = 224.1, df = 7, p<0.001), and ranged from 2.4% (95% CI: 1.9–2.7) in Eastern Europe to 9.0% in the British Isles (95% CI: 7.6–10.5) and Northern Europe (95% CI: 7.7–10.5). Twelve-month period prevalence varied significantly between regions (Q = 15.1, df = 3, p = 0.002) and ranged from 53.9% (95% CI: 48.3–59.4) in the British Isles to 68.3% (95% CI: 63.6–72.7) in Australia. Meta-regression found no association between year of measurement and antibiotic use prevalence. The pooled estimate of the percentage of appropriate antibiotic prescriptions was 28.5% (95% CI: 10.3–58.0; n = 17,245) as assessed by the McGeer criteria. Year of measurement was associated with decreasing appropriateness of antibiotic use over time (OR:0.78, 95% CI: 0.67–0.91). The most frequently used antibiotic classes were penicillins (n = 44 studies), cephalosporins (n = 36), sulphonamides/trimethoprim (n = 31), and quinolones (n = 28). Conclusions Coordinated efforts focusing on LTCFs are required to address antibiotic misuse in LTCFs. Our analysis provides overall baseline and regional estimates for future monitoring of antibiotic use in LTCFs.
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