Measuring the quality and effectiveness of antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) programmes with quality indicators (QIs) is an area of increasing interest. We conducted a systematic review to identify QIs of AMS programmes in the hospital setting and critically appraise their methodological quality. We searched the Cochrane Library, PubMed, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Scopus/web of science databases and the grey literature for studies that defined and/or described the development process and characteristics of the QIs developed. The Appraisal of Indicators through Research and Evaluation (AIRE) instrument was used to critically appraise the methodological quality of the QI sets.
We identified 16 studies of QI sets consisting of 229 QIs. The QI sets addressed a broad range of areas of AMS in the hospital setting and consisted of 75% process indicators, 24% structural indicators and 1% outcome indicators. There was a wide variation in the information and level of detail presented describing the methodological characteristics of the QI sets identified. The QIs identified in this study focused on process and structural indicators with few outcome indicators developed-a major deficiency in this area. Future research should focus on the development of outcome indicators or the use of process or structural indicators linked to outcomes to assess AMS. Testing of the QIs in practice is an essential methodological element of the QI development process and should be included in the QI development study or as planned validation work.