The individual, environmental, and organizational factors that influence nurses’ use of facial protection to prevent occupational transmission of communicable respiratory illness in acute care hospitals.

Nichol K, Bigelow P, O’Brien-Pallas L, McGeer A, Manno M, Holness DL.
Am J Infect Control. 2008 Sep;36(7):481-7.

BACKGROUND: Communicable respiratory illness is an important cause of morbidity among nurses. One of the key reasons for occupational transmission of this illness is the failure to implement appropriate barrier precautions, particularly facial protection. The objectives of this study were to describe the factors that influence nurses’ decisions to use facial protection and to determine their relative importance in predicting compliance.

METHODS: This cross-sectional survey was conducted in 9 units of 2 urban hospitals in which nursing staff regularly use facial protection.

RESULTS: A total of 400 self-administered questionnaires were provided to nurses, and 177 were returned (44% response rate). Less than half of respondents reported compliance with the recommended use of facial protection (eye/face protection, respirators, and surgical masks) to prevent occupational transmission of communicable respiratory disease. Multivariate analysis showed 5 factors to be key predictors of nurses’ compliance with the recommended use of facial protection. These factors include full-time work status, greater than 5 years tenure as a nurse, at least monthly use of facial protection, a belief that media coverage of infectious diseases impacts risk perception and work practices, and organizational support for health and safety.

CONCLUSION: Strategies and interventions based on these findings should result in enhanced compliance with facial protection and, ultimately, a reduction in occupational transmission of communicable respiratory illness.

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