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Infection-Control Compliance Hinges on Nurses' Attitudes

Analysis  |  By Kenneth Michek  
   July 12, 2018

Changing nurses' perception of infection risk could improve compliance with infection control measures.

It's often said that knowledge is power. But, a new study finds that when it comes to nurses' compliance with infection control measures, it's more appropriate to say attitude is everything. 

The study, "Factors for Compliance with Infection Control Practices in Home Health Care," examines the relationship between infection control compliance, knowledge, and attitude among home healthcare nurses.

Researchers surveyed 359 home healthcare nurses in the U.S, and evaluated their knowledge of best practices in relation to their compliance with infection control measures.

Over 90% of nurses self-reported compliance for most of the measured behaviors. The researchers also found there was not a direct correlation between knowledge of infection control practices and compliance with those practices. However, there was a relationship between the level of compliance and the participants’ favorable attitude toward infection control.

“This study tells us that knowledge is not enough,” says Jingjing Shang, PhD, an assistant professor of nursing at Columbia University School of Nursing, and a lead author of the study published last month in The American Journal of Infection Control. “Our efforts to improve compliance need to focus on ways to alter nurses’ attitudes and perceptions about infection risk.”

Common Hurdles

Based on the findings of this study, the authors suggest that efforts to improve compliance with infection control practices should focus on strategies to alter perceptions about infection risk. Changes should start on an organizational level, and seek to create a culture of positivity in relation to infection control compliance.

Here are other notable takeaways from the study:

  • Protective equipment lapses: While most of the participants reported compliance on most issues, many reported lapses when it came to wearing protective equipment. Only 9% said they wear disposable facemasks when there is a possibility of a splash or splatter, and 6% said they wear goggles or eye shields when there is a possibility of exposure to bloody discharge or fluid.
  • A culture of presenteeism: Presenteeism, coming into work despite being sick, has become a patient safety issue over the last few years, especially as it relates to infection control.  Only 4% of participants felt it was easy for them to stay at home when they were sick, which could be a major contributor to rates of infection.
  • Hand hygiene is still an issue: 30% of respondents failed to identify that hand hygiene should be performed after touching a nursing bag, which could transport infectious pathogens as nurses travel between patients.

“Infection is a leading cause of hospitalization among home healthcare patients, and nurses have a key role in reducing infection by compliance with infection control procedures in the home care setting,” Shang says.

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