• cross-sectional survey;
  • hepatitis C virus infection;
  • nurse practitioners;
  • primary health

frazer k., glacken m., coughlan b., staines a. & daly l. (2011) Hepatitis C virus infection in primary care: survey of registered nurses’ knowledge and access to information. Journal of Advanced Nursing67(2), 327–339.


Aim.  This paper is a report of a study conducted to compare knowledge of hepatitis C virus infection amongst three groups of registered nurses working in primary care, to identify their current sources of information and access to educational resources.

Background.  Hepatitis C virus infection is a public health problem; no vaccine exists to prevent the disease. Previous studies identified limitations in nurses’ knowledge of hepatitis C virus infection and the impact on care. Limited research has been conducted in primary care.

Methods.  A cross-sectional postal census survey of 981 nurses working in one Irish health board region was conducted March–June 2006. Questionnaires measured knowledge of hepatitis C virus infection. Data were collected on demographics, current working practices, information resources and previous education.

Results.  The response rate was 57·1% (n = 560). A minority (27·3% 145/531) of respondents agreed they were well informed about the virus. Almost 40% reported having contact with clients with the virus; however, information and service provision differed. Factors influencing higher knowledge included: contact with clients with hepatitis C virus infection (< 0·0001), working in the addiction services (P < 0·0001), educated to degree level and above (P < 0·010) and previously attending education programmes (P < 0·0001). Only 21·5% (119/553) of respondents had attended any form of education on hepatitis C virus infection.

Conclusion.  Gaps in nurses’ knowledge exist and can limit information and advice. Educational and information resources need to be developed for registered nurses working in primary care; care for clients with hepatitis C virus infection is not the sole remit of the addiction services.