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Reducing Clostridium difficile in the Inpatient Setting: A Systematic Review of the Adherence to and Effectiveness of C. difficile Prevention Bundles

  • Anna K. Barker (a1), Caitlyn Ngam (a1), Jackson S. Musuuza (a2), Valerie M. Vaughn (a3) (a4) and Nasia Safdar (a5) (a6) (a7)...

Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is the most common infectious cause of nosocomial diarrhea, and its prevention is an urgent public health priority. However, reduction of CDI is challenging because of its complex pathogenesis, large reservoirs of colonized patients, and the persistence of infectious spores. The literature lacks high-quality evidence for evaluating interventions, and many hospitals have implemented bundled interventions to reduce CDI with variable results. Thus, we conducted a systematic review to examine the components of CDI bundles, their implementation processes, and their impact on CDI rates.


We conducted a comprehensive literature search of multiple computerized databases from their date of inception through April 30, 2016. The protocol was registered in PROSPERO, an international prospective register of systematic reviews. Bundle effectiveness, adherence, and study quality were assessed for each study meeting our criteria for inclusion.


In the 26 studies that met the inclusion criteria for this review, implementation and adherence factors to interventions were variably and incompletely reported, making study reproducibility and replicability challenging. Despite contextual differences and the variety of bundle components utilized, all 26 studies reported an improvement in CDI rates. However, given the lack of randomized controlled trials in the literature, assessing a causal relationship between bundled interventions and CDI rates is currently impossible.


Cluster randomized trials that include a rigorous assessment of the implementation of bundled interventions are urgently needed to causally test the effect of intervention bundles on CDI rates.

Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2017;38:639–650

Corresponding author
Address correspondence to Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD, UWMF Centennial Building, 1685 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI 53705 (
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