Collaborative emergency preparedness and response to cross-institutional outbreaks of multidrug-resistant organisms: A scenario-based approach in two regions of the Netherlands

Marion De Vries*, Patrick Kenis, Marleen Kraaij-Dirkzwager, Elis Joost Ruitenberg, Jörg Raab, Aura Timen

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Background: The likelihood of large-scale outbreaks of multidrug-resistant organisms (MDRO) is growing. MDRO outbreaks can affect a wide range of healthcare institutions. Control of such outbreaks requires structured collaboration between professionals from all involved healthcare institutions, but guidelines for cross-institutional procedures are, however, often missing. Literature indicates that such multi-actor collaboration is most promising when effective network brokers are present, and when the collaborative actors have clarity about the different roles and responsibilities in the outbreak response network, including collaborative structures and coordination roles. Studying these factors in an imaginary MDRO outbreak scenario, we gained insights into the expectations that health professionals in the Netherlands have in regard to the procedures required to best respond to any future cross-institutional MDRO outbreaks. Methods: For exploration purpose, a focus group discussion with ten healthcare professionals was held. Subsequently, an online-survey was conducted among 56 healthcare professionals in two Dutch regions. The survey data was analysed using social network analyses (clique analysis and centrality analysis), which provided insights into the collaborative structures and potential brokers in the outbreak response networks. Additionally, respondents were asked which healthcare institutions and which professions they would prefer as coordinating actors in the collaborative network. Results: Our results show a relatively high level of perceived clarity about the roles and responsibilities that healthcare professionals have during a joint outbreak response. The regional outbreak response networks which were studied appeared inclusive and integrated, with many overlapping groups of fully-connected healthcare actors. Social network analyses resulted in the identification of several central actors from different healthcare institutions with the potential to take on a brokerage role in the collaboration. Actors in the outbreak response networks also showed to prefer several healthcare professionals to take on the coordination roles. Conclusion: Expected collaborative structures during an imaginary regional MDRO outbreak response are relatively dense and integrated. In regard to the coordination of an MDRO outbreak response, based on both the network analysis results and the preferred coordination roles, our findings support a governance structure with several healthcare institutions involved in responding to future cross-institutional MDRO outbreaks.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number52
    Pages (from-to)1-12
    Number of pages12
    JournalBMC Public Health
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2019


    • Antimicrobial resistance
    • Multidrug-resistant organisms
    • Network analysis
    • Outbreak management
    • Outbreak response


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