Learning from the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic


  • Engle Angela Chan PhD, RN,

  • Joanne WY Chung PhD, RN,

  • Thomas KS Wong PhD, RN

Engle Angela Chan
Assistant Professor
School of Nursing
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Hong Kong SAR
Telephone: 852-2766-4131
E-mail: hseachan@inet.polyu.edu.hk


Aims and objectives.  This study uses two models of nursing practice, conventional and modular design, to compare nursing activities, hand hygiene, time efficiency and nurse–patient satisfaction in medical and surgical wards.

Background.  Learning from the SARS epidemic pointed to the importance of quality nursing practice considerations that minimize cross-transmission of infection while maximizing patient-focused care. Hence, a modular nursing model was adopted.

Design and method.  This study comprised pre- and postintervention phases. Data collection tools to evaluate modular nursing practice included a work sampling observation checklist, focused group interviews with nurses, questionnaires addressing nurses’ perceived competence and caring attributes, a patient satisfaction questionnaire, and a hand hygiene audit. A series of education sessions were conducted between the two phases. Quantitative and qualitative analyses were used for data triangulation.

Results.  Modular nursing practice, focusing on continuity of care, led to changes in the nature of direct care activities and improvement in patient/family education frequency. Also, a general increase in nurses’ hand washing frequency was noted. However, when nurses perceived time pressure, a lapse in hand hygiene compliance was found. Because of human resource and inefficiency issues, some nurses in the studied wards did not embrace geographical separation for infection control. Positive correlations were found for nurses’ perceived infection control practice competence and their perceived caring attributes.

Relevance to clinical practice.  In examining nursing practice models within complex clinical situations, the significance lies not only in the model's effects but also in other operational outcomes.