Low Levels of Knowledge and Preventive Practices Regarding Vertical Hepatitis B Transmission among Perinatal Nurses


  • The authors report no conflict of interest or relevant financial relationships.


Chrissy Cheung, MPH Asian Liver Center Stanford University 490 S. California Avenue Suite 300 Palo Alto, CA 94306 ccheung1@stanford.edu



To evaluate current levels of hepatitis-B-related knowledge and clinical practice among perinatal nurses.


Cross-sectional study.


Santa Clara County, California, home to one of the largest U.S. populations at risk of perinatal hepatitis B transmission.


Perinatal nurses (N = 518) from eight birthing hospitals.


In 2008–2010, nurses completed a baseline survey evaluating existing hepatitis-B-related knowledge and preventive clinical practices, participated in an educational seminar, received instructional materials about hepatitis B, and completed a follow-up knowledge survey.


Eighty percent of perinatal nurses had provided health care to a pregnant woman with chronic hepatitis B, but only 51% routinely provided patients with educational information about hepatitis B. While 75% routinely informed patients about effective methods to prevent mother-to-child transmission, only a small minority (17–34%) educated infected women about standard recommendations for protecting themselves and household members. One fourth or fewer nurses correctly answered most questions about hepatitis B prevalence, risks, and symptoms. After the educational seminar, knowledge increased statistically significantly.


Existing knowledge about hepatitis B is limited, and nationally recommended preventive clinical practices are commonly overlooked by perinatal nurses. This lack of knowledge and preventive care represents a noteworthy gap and an opportunity for targeted training and education to improve perinatal hepatitis B prevention and medical management of infected mothers.