Addressing resistance to antibiotics in systematic reviews of antibiotic interventions

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Abstract

Antibiotics are among the most important interventions in healthcare. Resistance of bacteria to antibiotics threatens the effectiveness of treatment. Systematic reviews of antibiotic treatments often do not address resistance to antibiotics even when data are available in the original studies. This omission creates a skewed view, which emphasizes short-term efficacy and ignores the long-term consequences to the patient and other people. We offer a framework for addressing antibiotic resistance in systematic reviews. We suggest that the data on background resistance in the original trials should be reported and taken into account when interpreting results. Data on emergence of resistance (whether in the body reservoirs or in the bacteria causing infection) are important outcomes. Emergence of resistance should be taken into account when interpreting the evidence on antibiotic treatment in randomized controlled trials or systematic reviews.

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