An investigation into the knowledge and practice of undergraduate nursing students regarding universal precautions and their fear of occupational exposure to blood borne pathogens
Van der Berg, Lindy Sheryldene
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Background: Health care workers, more specifically, nursing students are at increased risk of occupational injury and exposure to blood borne pathogens. Compliance with universal precautions (UP) will minimise risk or transmission of HIV and HBV (Hepatitis B virus) according to the Department of Health of South Africa. Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate the knowledge and practice of universal precautions amongst nursing students and their fear of occupational exposure to blood borne pathogens. Rationale: The rationale for the study was to investigate what the studentss knowledge and practice of UP were, to see if this could be a possible contributing factor to occupational exposure. Research design: The study was a quantitative, cross sectional survey using a questionnaire that included one open ended question. Participants: The participants for the study were the undergraduate nursing students in year levels two to four (n = 253) who and were selected by means of stratified random sampling. Procedures: A questionnaire was administered to the participants by the researcher. Analysis of the data collected was done through statistical package for social sciences (SPSS 16.0) and content analysis. Results: The researcher established that there is indeed a lack of knowledge regarding UP and that the students’ self reported practice of UP is poor. No statistically significant correlation between knowledge and practice of UP were found. There is underreporting of occupational exposures to staff at the School of Nursing. The majority of students reported a moderate to severe fear for occupational exposures and contributing factors raised by them are reality in the clinical facilities.