Document Type


Publication Date



Background: Bacteriuria, either asymptomatic (ASB) or symptomatic, urinary tract infection (UTI), is common in persons with spinal cord injury (SCI). Current Veterans Health Administration (VHA) guidelines recommend a screening urinalysis and urine culture for every veteran with SCI during annual evaluation, even when asymptomatic, which is contrary to other national guidelines. Our preliminary data suggest that a positive urine culture (even without signs or symptoms of infection) drives antibiotic use. Objective: Through a series of innovative studies utilizing mixed methods, administrative databases, and focus groups, we will gain further knowledge about the attitudes driving current urine testing practices during the annual exam, as well as quantitative data on the clinical outcomes of these practices. Methods: Aim 1 will identify patient, provider, and facility factors driving bacteriuria testing and subsequent antibiotic use after the SCI annual evaluation through qualitative interviews and quantitative surveys. Aim 2 will use national VHA databases to identify the predictors of urine testing and subsequent antibiotic use during the annual examination and compare the clinical outcomes of those who received antibiotics with those who did not. Aim 3 will use the information gathered from the previous 2 aims to develop the Test Smart, Treat Smart intervention, a combination of patient and provider education and resources that will help stakeholders have informed conversations about urine testing and antibiotic use; feasibility will be tested at a single site. Results: This protocol received institutional review board and VHA Research and Development approval in July 2017, and Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development funding started on November 2017. As of submission of this manuscript, 10/15 (67%) of the target goal of provider interviews were complete, and 77/100 (77%) of the goal of surveys. With regard to patients, 5/15 (33%) of the target goal of interviews were complete, and 20/100 (20%) of the target goal of surveys had been completed. Preliminary analyses are ongoing; the study team plans to present these results in April 2019. Database analyses for aim 2 will begin in January 2019. Conclusions: The negative consequences of antibiotic overuse and antibiotic resistance are well-documented and have national and even global implications. This study will develop an intervention aimed to educate stakeholders on evidence-based management of ASB and UTI and guide antibiotic stewardship in this high-risk population. The next step will be to refine the intervention and test its feasibility and effectiveness at multiple sites as well as reform policy for management of this common but burdensome condition.