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Keywords:

  • framework;
  • healthcare-associated infection;
  • infection control;
  • infection prevention;
  • model;
  • nursing;
  • surveillance;
  • theory

Abstract

Aim

To present a discussion on theoretical frameworks in infection prevention and control.

Background

Infection prevention and control programmes have been in place for several years in response to the incidence of healthcare-associated infections and their associated morbidity and mortality. Theoretical frameworks play an important role in formalizing the understanding of infection prevention activities.

Design

Discussion paper.

Data sources

A literature search using electronic databases was conducted for published articles in English addressing theoretical frameworks in infection prevention and control between 1980–2012.

Results

Nineteen papers that included a reference to frameworks were identified in the review. A narrative analysis of these papers was completed. Two models were identified and neither included the role of surveillance.

Discussion

To reduce the risk of acquiring a healthcare-associated infection, a multifaceted approach to infection prevention is required. One key component in this approach is surveillance. The review identified two infection prevention and control frameworks, yet these are rarely applied in infection prevention and control programmes. Only one framework considered the multifaceted approach required for infection prevention. It did not, however, incorporate the role of surveillance. We present a framework that incorporates the role of surveillance into a biopsychosocial approach to infection prevention and control.

Conclusion

Infection prevention and control programmes and associated research are led primarily by nurses. There is a need for an explicit infection prevention and control framework incorporating the important role that surveillance has in infection prevention activities. This study presents one framework for further critique and discussion.