Perceived Knowledge of Blood-Borne Pathogens and Avoidance of Contact With Infected Patients
Article first published online: 17 MAR 2009
© 2009 Sigma Theta Tau International
Journal of Nursing Scholarship
Volume 41, Issue 1, pages 13–19, March 2009
How to Cite
Kagan, I., Ovadia, K. L. and Kaneti, T. (2009), Perceived Knowledge of Blood-Borne Pathogens and Avoidance of Contact With Infected Patients. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 41: 13–19. doi: 10.1111/j.1547-5069.2009.01246.x
- Issue published online: 17 MAR 2009
- Article first published online: 17 MAR 2009
- Accepted: August 18, 2008.
- Blood-borne pathogens;
- infected patients;
- knowledge about blood-borne pathogens;
- avoidance of therapeutic contact
Purpose: To examine the relationship between nurses' knowledge of blood-borne pathogens (BBPs), their professional behavior regarding handwashing, compliance with standard precautions (SPs), and avoidance of therapeutic contact with BBP-infected patients.
Design: This cross-sectional design study took place in a regional medical center in Central Israel during 2003.
Methods: Of the 180 participants, 159 (88.3%) were women with an average educational level of 16.40 years (SD=2.66). The mean age of the sample was 39.41 (SD=10.1). Data were collected using a structured questionnaire including sociodemographic information, level of knowledge concerning three BBPs (human immunodeficiency virus [HIV], hepatitis B virus [HBV], and hepatitis C virus [HCV]), level of compliance with SPs, understanding of SP principles, and avoidance of therapeutic contact with BBP-infected patients.
Findings: Levels of HIV-related knowledge were significantly higher than were those of HBV- and HCV-related knowledge. Only 96 participants (54.5%) stated that all patients should be treated as BBP-carriers. The understanding of the basic principle of SPs did not influence the relationship between perceived knowledge and self-reported compliance with SPs; 77.3% of the sample reported that they avoid therapeutic contact with BBP-infected patients. The level of perceived knowledge did not contribute to the nurses' avoidance of care of BBP carriers.
Conclusions: Perceived knowledge of BBPs has a weak effect on compliance with SPs and willingness to care for BBP-infected patients.
Recommendations: Nurses must identify their preconceptions when caring for BBP-carriers. Further research on this issue is needed to attempt to understand the forces acting on our nursing staff, in order to ensure appropriate care of BBP-infected patients.
Clinical Relevance: Our study indicated some reluctance among nurses to care for patients with blood-borne pathogens. This appears to be the result of value systems and not a lack of knowledge, indicating a need to integrate a psychoeducational approach to education of nurses.