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Predictors for compliance of standard precautions among nursing students

Published:April 11, 2015DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajic.2015.03.007

      Background

      We aimed to investigate the frequency of standard precautions (SPs) compliance and the factors affecting the compliance among nursing students (NSs).

      Methods

      A cross-sectional survey study guided by the health belief model was conducted in 2009. The study questionnaire is valid (content validity index, 0.81) and reliable (Cronbach α range, 0.65-0.94).

      Results

      There were 678 questionnaires analyzed, with a response rate of 68.9%. The mean frequency score of SPs compliance was 4.38 ± 0.40 out of 5. Tukey honest significant difference post hoc test indicated that year 2 and year 4 students had better SPs compliance than year 3 students. Further analysis using a univariate general linear model identified an interaction effect of perceived influence of nursing staff and year of study (F1,593 = 3.72; P < .05). The 5 following predictors for SPs compliance were identified: knowledge of SPs, perceived barriers, adequacy of training, management support, and influence of nursing staff.

      Conclusion

      Although the SPs compliance among NSs was high, the compliance varied by year of study and was affected by the nursing staff. Furthermore, SPs compliance among NSs can be enhanced by increasing SPs knowledge, providing more SPs training, promoting management support, reducing identified SPs barriers, and improving nursing staff compliance to SPs.

      Key Words

      Nursing students (NSs) are at high risk of exposure to occupational biologic hazards because they are obligated to provide care to patients admitted with an unknown infection status.
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      Kozier and Erb’s fundamentals of nursing: concepts, process, and practice.
      Owing to the nature of the work, health care workers (HCWs) are 3 times and 5 times more likely to acquire tuberculosis
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      In 2003, within 8 months of the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, it had spread rapidly to 30 countries, 8,096 people were infected, and 774 died from severe acute respiratory syndrome.

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      Among those infected, 21% (n = 1,706) were HCWs.

      World Health Organization. Summary of probably SARS cases with onset of illness from 1 November 2002 to 31 July 2003. 2013. Available from: http://www.who.int/csr/sars/country/table2004_04_21/en/index.html#. Accessed April 8, 2015.

      In the last 10 years, the reported cases of avian and swine influenza around the world, and lately the novel coronavirus in the United Kingdom (UK)

      World Health Organization (WHO). Novel coronavirus infection - update. 2013. Available from: http://www.who.int/csr/don/2013_02_16/en/index.html. Accessed April 8, 2015.

      and avian influenza A,

      Centre for Health Protection. NHFPC notifies CHP of three additional human cases of avian influenza A (H7N9) in Fujian and Zhejiang. 2014. Available from: http://chp.gov.hk/en/view_content/33085.html. Accessed April 8, 2015.

      signify the possibility of virus mutation and person-to-person transmission. These uncertainties on infectious diseases continue to pose a threat to the health of HCWs.

      World Health Organization (WHO). Novel coronavirus infection - update. 2013. Available from: http://www.who.int/csr/don/2013_02_16/en/index.html. Accessed April 8, 2015.

      Although HCWs face the challenge of emerging infectious diseases and pandemics, standard precautions (SPs) have been proven by evidence-based research as “the foundation for prevention transmission of infectious agents in all healthcare settings.”

      Siegel JD, Rhinehart E, Jackson M, Chiarello L, the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee. Guideline for isolation precautions: preventing transmission of infectious agents in healthcare settings. 2007. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/pdf/isolation/Isolation2007.pdf. Accessed April 8, 2015.

      Hence, HCWs are required to treat patients as potentially infectious
      • Efstathiou G.
      • Papastavrou E.
      • Raftopoulos V.
      • Merkouris A.
      Compliance of Cypriot nurses with standard precautions to avoid exposure to pathogens.
      and apply SPs routinely.
      • Berman A.
      • Snyder S.J.
      Kozier and Erb’s fundamentals of nursing: concepts, process, and practice.
      However, HCWs adopt SPs depending on their own perception of risk of contracting the infectious disease in each clinical situation.
      • Cutter J.
      • Jordan S.
      Inter-professional differences in compliance with standard precautions in operating theatres: a multi-site, mixed methods study.
      The compliance of SPs among HCWs is exceptionally low. For nurses, the compliance of SPs ranged from 9.1%-73%.
      • Efstathiou G.
      • Papastavrou E.
      • Raftopoulos V.
      • Merkouris A.
      Compliance of Cypriot nurses with standard precautions to avoid exposure to pathogens.
      • Gammon J.
      • Morgan-Samuel H.
      • Gould D.
      A review of the evidence for suboptimal compliance of healthcare practitioners to standard/universal infection control precautions.
      Factors affecting SPs compliance among registered nurses included individual factors (eg, age,
      • Osborne S.
      Influences on compliance with standard precautions among operating room nurses.
      sex,
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      • Larson E.L.
      Behavioral interventions to improve infection control practices.
      knowledge
      • Chan M.F.
      • Ho A.
      • Day M.C.
      Investigating the knowledge, attitudes and practice patterns of operating room staff towards standard and transmission-based precautions: results of a cluster analysis.
      ), psychosocial factors (eg, risk-taking personality,
      • Mcgovern P.M.
      • Vesley D.
      • Kochevar L.
      • Gershon R.R.
      • Rhame F.S.
      • Anderson E.
      Factors affecting universal precautions compliance.
      perceived susceptibility
      • Li L.
      • Wu Z.
      • Wu S.
      • Zhaoc Y.
      • Jia M.
      • Yan Z.
      HIV-related stigma in health care settings: a survey of service providers in China.
      ), and organizational factors (eg, safety climate).
      • Kermode M.
      • Jolley D.
      • Langkham B.
      • Thomas M.S.
      • Holmes W.
      • Gifford S.M.
      Compliance with Universal/Standard Precautions among health care workers in rural north India.
      Still, limited studies have been conducted to investigate the compliance of and factors affecting SPs among NSs.
      • Garcia-Zapata M.R.
      • e Souza A.C.
      • Guimaraes J.V.
      • Tipple A.F.
      • Prado M.A.
      • Garcia-Zapata M.T.
      Standard precautions: knowledge and practice among nursing and medical students in a teaching hospital in Brazil.
      Worldwide, NSs in preregistration programs are required to provide nursing care in clinical practice.
      • Cheung K.
      • Ching S.S.
      • Chang K.K.
      • Ho S.C.
      Prevalence of and risk factors for needlestick and sharps injuries among nursing students in Hong Kong.
      In addition, their knowledge acquired and compliance of SPs during their nursing training years might affect their practice as they become registered nurses. A review of the literature found that only 2 studies, conducted in Italy and Brazil, have examined the compliance of some aspects of SPs in NSs
      • Garcia-Zapata M.R.
      • e Souza A.C.
      • Guimaraes J.V.
      • Tipple A.F.
      • Prado M.A.
      • Garcia-Zapata M.T.
      Standard precautions: knowledge and practice among nursing and medical students in a teaching hospital in Brazil.
      • Bergamini M.
      • Cucchi A.
      • Stefanati A.
      • Cavallaro A.
      • Gabutti G.
      Knowledge of preventive measures against occupational risks and spread of healthcare-associated infections among nursing students. An epidemiological prevalence study from Ferrara, Italy.
      ; and 4 studies examined knowledge of infection control preventive measures among NSs in France, Italy, Taiwan, and the United States.
      • Bergamini M.
      • Cucchi A.
      • Stefanati A.
      • Cavallaro A.
      • Gabutti G.
      Knowledge of preventive measures against occupational risks and spread of healthcare-associated infections among nursing students. An epidemiological prevalence study from Ferrara, Italy.
      • Mahat G.
      • Eller L.S.
      HIV/AIDS and universal precautions: knowledge and attitudes of Nepalese nursing students.
      • Tavolacci M.P.
      • Ladner J.
      • Bailly L.
      • Merle V.
      • Pitrou I.
      • Czerncichow P.
      Prevention of nosocomial infection and standard precautions: knowledge and source of information among healthcare students.
      • Wu C.J.
      • Gardner G.E.
      • Chang A.M.
      Taiwanese nursing students’ knowledge, application and confidence with standard and additional precautions in infection control.
      However, no investigations to our knowledge have been carried out on the factors affecting the compliance of SPs among NSs. Theoretical frameworks have been used to guide studies on SPs among registered nurses,
      • Osborne S.
      Influences on compliance with standard precautions among operating room nurses.
      • Efstathiou G.
      • Papastavrou E.
      • Raftopoulos V.
      • Merkouris A.
      Factors influencing nurses’ compliance with standard precautions in order to avoid occupational exposure to microorganisms: a focus group study.
      but not in NSs. Furthermore, the sample size of those studies conducted among NSs was relatively small, ranging from 48-175 participants in 1 particular year of study.
      • Garcia-Zapata M.R.
      • e Souza A.C.
      • Guimaraes J.V.
      • Tipple A.F.
      • Prado M.A.
      • Garcia-Zapata M.T.
      Standard precautions: knowledge and practice among nursing and medical students in a teaching hospital in Brazil.
      • Bergamini M.
      • Cucchi A.
      • Stefanati A.
      • Cavallaro A.
      • Gabutti G.
      Knowledge of preventive measures against occupational risks and spread of healthcare-associated infections among nursing students. An epidemiological prevalence study from Ferrara, Italy.
      • Mahat G.
      • Eller L.S.
      HIV/AIDS and universal precautions: knowledge and attitudes of Nepalese nursing students.
      • Wu C.J.
      • Gardner G.E.
      • Chang A.M.
      Taiwanese nursing students’ knowledge, application and confidence with standard and additional precautions in infection control.
      It remains unclear whether NSs' compliance of SPs would be affected by registered nurses in the clinical settings.
      • Garcia-Zapata M.R.
      • e Souza A.C.
      • Guimaraes J.V.
      • Tipple A.F.
      • Prado M.A.
      • Garcia-Zapata M.T.
      Standard precautions: knowledge and practice among nursing and medical students in a teaching hospital in Brazil.
      Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the factors affecting the compliance of SPs among NSs.

      Methods

      Design

      This was a cross-sectional survey study. NSs who were studying in a full-time undergraduate program in 1 university in Hong Kong were invited to participate in the study. Ethical approval from the university was obtained.

      Conceptual framework

      The health belief model (HBM) is one of the most widely used models to explain and predict why an individual does or does not take preventive health measures.
      • Janz N.K.
      • Becker M.H.
      The Health Belief Model: a decade later.
      • Rogers B.
      Occupational health nursing: concepts and practice.
      The 3 key components are individual perceptions, modifying factors, and factors affecting the likelihood of taking preventive health measures.
      • Rogers B.
      Occupational health nursing: concepts and practice.
      Furthermore, the individual perception component has the 2 following dimensions: perceived susceptibility (eg, NSs' own subjective perception of the risk of contracting bloodborne diseases) and perceived severity (eg, NSs' own subjective perception of the consequential seriousness of contracting bloodborne diseases).
      • Janz N.K.
      • Becker M.H.
      The Health Belief Model: a decade later.
      The combination of these 2 dimensions contributes to the perceived threat for acquiring bloodborne diseases.
      • Efstathiou G.
      • Papastavrou E.
      • Raftopoulos V.
      • Merkouris A.
      Factors influencing nurses’ compliance with standard precautions in order to avoid occupational exposure to microorganisms: a focus group study.
      The perceived threat provides the motivation to act.
      • Janz N.K.
      • Becker M.H.
      The Health Belief Model: a decade later.
      The other key component, modifying factors, consists of demographic, sociopsychologic, structural, and cues to action factors, which influence NSs to take preventive measures.
      • Rogers B.
      Occupational health nursing: concepts and practice.
      The third component, the likelihood of taking preventive measures, also has 2 dimensions, which are perceived benefits (eg, NSs believe that SPs can effectively prevent them from contracting bloodborne diseases) and perceived barriers (eg, NSs believe that there are possible hindrances to engaging SPs).
      • Rogers B.
      Occupational health nursing: concepts and practice.
      If the perceived benefits are greater than the perceived barriers, it is more likely that the NSs would comply with the SPs or vice versa (Fig 1).
      • Janz N.K.
      • Becker M.H.
      The Health Belief Model: a decade later.
      Figure thumbnail gr1
      Fig 1Conceptual framework to guide the study. SP, standard precautions; TB, tuberculosis.

      Instrument

      A questionnaire was developed based on a review of the literature.
      • Mcgovern P.M.
      • Vesley D.
      • Kochevar L.
      • Gershon R.R.
      • Rhame F.S.
      • Anderson E.
      Factors affecting universal precautions compliance.
      • Li L.
      • Wu Z.
      • Wu S.
      • Zhaoc Y.
      • Jia M.
      • Yan Z.
      HIV-related stigma in health care settings: a survey of service providers in China.
      • Kermode M.
      • Jolley D.
      • Langkham B.
      • Thomas M.S.
      • Holmes W.
      • Gifford S.M.
      Compliance with Universal/Standard Precautions among health care workers in rural north India.
      • Bektas H.A.
      • Kulakac O.
      Knowledge and attitudes of nursing students toward patients living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV): a Turkish perspective.
      • Chan R.
      • Molassiotisb A.
      • Chan E.
      • Chan V.
      • Ho B.
      • Lai C.Y.
      • et al.
      Nurses’ knowledge of and compliance with universal precautions in an acute care hospital.
      • Gershon R.
      • Vlahov D.
      • Felknor S.A.
      • Vesley D.
      • Johnson P.C.
      • Declos G.L.
      • et al.
      Compliance with universal precautions among health workers at three regional hospitals.
      • Wang H.
      • Fennie K.
      • He G.
      • Burgess J.
      • Williams A.B.
      A training programme for prevention of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens: impact on knowledge, behaviour and incidence of needle stick injuries among student nurses in Changsha, People’s Republic of China.
      Its content validity was evaluated by 4 experts in the field of nursing and infection control, with an acceptable content validity index of 0.81.
      • Rubio D.M.
      • Berg-Weger M.
      • Tebb S.S.
      • Lee E.S.
      • Rauch S.
      Objectifying content validity: conducting a content validity study in social work research.
      The 2-week test and retest reliability was conducted among 10 NSs, with an acceptable reliability of 0.99. Based on the study data (N = 678), Cronbach α of subscales were acceptable, ranging from 0.65-0.94.
      The questionnaire consists of demographic information (eg, age, sex, program, year of study) and experience of needlestick injury and source of SPs information. The rest of the questionnaire has 12 subscales of which most are measured by a 4-point Likert scale (4 = strongly agree and 1 = strongly disagree): (1) risk-taking behaviors (2 items; α = 0.707); (2) perceived susceptibility to disease (3 items; α = 0.741); (3) perceived seriousness of disease (3 items; α = 0.728); (4) perceived threat to disease (8 items; α = 0.896); (5) perceived high-risk procedures (6 items; α = 0.820); (6) knowledge of SPs (11 items; α = 0.937; calculated in percentages); (7) compliance of SPs (20 items; α = 0.804, with 5 = always and 1 = never); (8) perceived barriers (8 items; α = 0.837); (9) perceived benefits (2 items; α = 0.653); (10) management support from the school and clinical venues (2 items; α = 0.682); (11) adequacy of training provided (3 items; α = 0.736); and (12) nursing staff influence (1 item).

      Data collection procedure

      The questionnaires together with the information sheet were distributed to the target population in a classroom setting in September 2009. Their consent to participate in the study would be implied by their willingness to fill in the questionnaire.

      Statistical analysis

      SPSS version 18 (SPSS, Chicago, IL) was used for the data analysis. Descriptive statistics, such as frequencies, means, and SDs, were used to assess the data. The data were assumed normally distributed because its sample size was >100.
      • Katz M.H.
      Multivariable analysis: a practical guide for clinicians.
      The strength of associations between independent variables and the dependent variable, scores of SPs compliance, was analyzed using the following statistical tests
      • Morgan G.A.
      • Leech N.L.
      • Gloeckner G.W.
      • Barrett K.C.
      SPSS for introductory statistics: use and interpretation.
      • Polit D.F.
      • Hungler B.P.
      Nursing research: principles and methods.
      : (1) Pearson correlation to test the relationship between 2 variables (eg, age, compliance); (2) independent t test to test the difference between 2 dependent group means (eg, mean compliance scores between NSs perceived influence of nursing staff and those who did not perceive the influence); (3) 1-way analysis of variance to test the difference among the means of ≥3 independent groups (eg, mean compliance scores among NSs in first, second, third, and fourth year of study), and if there were significant differences, Tukey honest significant difference test for post hoc comparisons was performed; and (4) univariate general linear model to test the main effect and interaction effect of independent variables on compliance. Those independent variables which showed a significant relationship with the SPs compliance were checked for multicollinearity and were included in the multiple regression analysis to determine the predictors of compliance of the SPs.

      Results

      A total of 984 questionnaires were distributed, and 698 questionnaires were returned. Of the returned questionnaires, 20 were invalid. Therefore, 678 questionnaires (response rate, 68.9%) were used in the final analysis.

      Characteristics of NSs

      NSs from 2 undergraduate programs with 1-4 years of study participated in the study. Their ages ranged from 18-29 years, with a mean age of 21.02 ± 1.46 years. The sex distribution of the study sample (female/male = 3:1) was similar to the sex ratio of students enrolled in the programs.
      • Cheung K.
      • Ching S.S.
      • Chang K.K.
      • Ho S.C.
      Prevalence of and risk factors for needlestick and sharps injuries among nursing students in Hong Kong.
      More than 70% (n = 486) of NSs had attended SPs training. Their sources of the SPs information mainly came from university teachers (n = 574, 84.7%), clinical staff (n = 310, 45.7%), television (n = 286, 42.2%), and newspapers (n = 239, 35.3%). Most of them (n = 635, 73.7%) did not have any bloodborne diseases, such as HB and hepatitis C. The study-period prevalence of needlestick injuries was 3.1% (n = 21), and the 12-month prevalence was 1.6% (n = 11). In their personal life, they have family members, relatives, friends, classmates, or coworkers who are homosexual (15.7%, n = 106), have HB or hepatitis C (12.6%, n = 85), are bisexual (8%, n = 54), are intravenous drug users (3.4%, n = 23), have AIDS (1.9%, n = 13), and are commercial sex workers (0.6%, n = 4) (Table 1).
      Table 1Characteristics of nursing students (N = 678)
      CharacteristicsValue
      Sex
       Male171 (25.4)
       Female506 (74.6)
      Program of study
       BSN514 (75.8)
       HD164 (24.2)
      Year of study
      Year 1: BSN year 1 and HD year 1; year 2 = BSN year 2 and HD year 2; year 3 = BSN year 3; year 4: BSN year 4 and HD year 3.
       1143 (21.1)
       2277 (40.9)
       394 (13.9)
       4164 (24.2)
      Standard precaution training (n = 677)
       Yes486 (71.8)
       No78 (11.5)
       Not sure113 (16.7)
      Bloodborne disease (n = 673)
       Yes9 (1.3)
       No635 (93.7)
       Unknown29 (4.3)
      Social contact with persons with or high risk to have bloodborne diseases (n = 675)
       Yes185 (27.4)
       No490 (72.6)
      Needlestick injuries
       Yes21 (3.1)
       No657 (96.9)
      Age, y (n = 674)21.02 ± 1.46 (18-29)
      NOTE. Values are n (%) or mean ± SD (range).
      BSN, Bachelor of Science in Nursing; HD, Higher Diploma in Nursing.
      Year 1: BSN year 1 and HD year 1; year 2 = BSN year 2 and HD year 2; year 3 = BSN year 3; year 4: BSN year 4 and HD year 3.

      Compliance of SPs

      Among 632 respondents, the mean frequency score of SPs compliance was 4.38 ± 0.40, with scores ranging from 3 (sometimes) to 5 (always). The mean frequency scores of nonsterile gloves, hand hygiene, handling and disposal of needle and sharp objects, gown, and eye protection compliance were 4.62 ± 0.49, 4.52 ± 0.49, 4.37 ± 0.58, 4.18 ± 0.87, and 3.87 ± 1.08, respectively. All NSs would perform hand hygiene after removing gloves. However, 19.1% (n = 122) of them often or always recapped needles contaminated with blood; 13.8% (n = 89) and 14.7% (n = 94) rarely or never wore eye protection equipment whenever there was a possibility of blood-body fluids or secretions-excretions splashing in their face, respectively. Furthermore, the results of 1-way analysis of variance indicated that the SPs compliance varied by year of study (F3,628 = 4.09; P < .01) (Table 2). The SP compliance for year 2 (mean, 4.41 ± 0.40) and year 4 (mean, 4.42 ± 0.38) students was significantly better than that of year 3 students (mean, 4.28 ± 0.37) as determined with the Tukey honest significant difference post hoc test.
      Table 2Relationship between demographics and study variables with compliance of standard precautions among nursing students (N = 678)
      ItemsCompliance of standard precautions
      Pearson rP value
      Age0.046NS
      Risk-taking behaviors−0.065NS
      Perceived susceptibility−0.09
      P < .05.
      .023
      Perceived seriousness0.095
      P < .05.
      .017
      Perceived threats0.049NS
      Knowledge of standard precautions0.195
      P < .001.
      >.001
      Perceived barriers−0.262
      P < .001.
      >.001
      Perceived benefits0.162
      P < .001.
      >.001
      Perceived adequacy of training0.207
      P < .001.
      >.001
      Perceived management support0.175
      P < .001.
      >.001
      Independent samples t test
      t, dfP value
      Sex−1.50, 630NS
      Program of study−1.72, 530NS
      Social contact with bloodborne diseases persons−0.72, 627NS
      Needlestick injuries1.29, 630NS
      Perceived influence of nursing staff4.83, 618
      P < .001.
      <.001
      One-way ANOVA
      F, df (BG, WG)P value
      Year of study (1, 2, 3, 4)4.09 (3, 628)
      P < .01.
      .007
      Standard precautions training (yes, no, not sure)1.99 (2, 628)NS
      Bloodborne diseases (yes, no, unknown)0.17 (2, 624)NS
      ANOVA, analysis of variance; NS, nonsignificant; BG, between Group; WG, within Group.
      P < .05.
      P < .001.
      P < .01.

      Knowledge of SPs

      Among the 678 respondents, the mean score of SPs knowledge was 78.02%, ranging from 0%-100%. Two NSs answered not sure for all the items, and hence they received zero percentage. On the other hand, 59 NSs (8.7%) achieved 100%, and 338 (49.8%) NSs obtained 81.82%-90.91%.

      Interaction effects and factors associated with SPs compliance

      Bivariate statistical analysis found 9 factors were associated with compliance of SPs among NSs (Table 2). Those 9 factors were perceived susceptibility, perceived seriousness, knowledge of SPs, perceived barriers, perceived benefits, perceived adequacy of training, perceived management support, perceived influence of nursing staff, and year of study. Further analysis using a univariate general linear model identified an interaction effect of perceived influence of nursing staff and year of study (F1,593 = 3.27; P < .05) (Table 3). Results showed that second (t271 = 3.49, P = .001) and third year (t90 = 4.59, P < .001) students were significantly affected by the nursing staff's compliance of SPs. However, there were no significant differences between perceived influence of nursing staff on compliance of SPs for first (t94 = 0.53, P = .60) and fourth year (t157 = 1.04, P = .30) NSs (Fig 2).
      Table 3Analysis of variance for compliance of SPs as a function of perceived susceptibility, perceived seriousness, knowledge of SPs, perceived barriers, perceived benefits, perceived adequate of training, management support, perceived influence of nursing staff, and year of study using a univariate general linear model
      Independent variablesdfMean squareFP value
      Perceived susceptibility10.0030.023NS
      Perceived seriousness10.1270.932NS
      Knowledge of SPs10.6494.771
      P < .05.
      .029
      Perceived barriers12.68319.728
      P < .001.
      <.001
      Perceived benefits10.0850.625NS
      Perceived adequate of training10.8286.086
      P < .05.
      .014
      Perceived management support10.695.073
      P < .05.
      .025
      Perceived influence of nursing staff10.5594.109
      P < .05.
      .043
      Year of study34.9984.998
      P < .01.
      .002
      Perceived influence of nursing staff × year of study33.2673.267
      P < .05.
      .021
      Error593
      NOTE. Adjusted R2 = 0.143.
      NS, nonsignificant; SP, standard precaution.
      P < .05.
      P < .001.
      P < .01.
      Figure thumbnail gr2
      Fig 2Interaction effect of perceived influence of nursing staff and year of study on compliance of standard precautions.

      Predictors for compliance of SPs

      Five predictors for compliance of SPs have been identified: knowledge of SPs, perceived barriers, perceived adequacy of training, perceived management support, and perceived influence of nursing staff (F6,605 = 15.085; P < .001) (Table 4). The adjusted R2 value was 0.122. This indicates that 12.2% of the variance in compliance of SPs was explained by the model. This small 12.2% variance indicated that the model explained only part, but not all, of the compliance of SPs among NSs. The perceived barriers included difficulty in performing procedures properly when wearing personal proactive equipment (39.3%, n = 247), offending patients when wearing personal proactive equipment to provide care (28.7%, n = 181), too busy to follow SPs (23.9%, n = 151), and offending nursing staff-ward practice if NSs followed proper SPs (22.7%, n = 143).
      Table 4Multiple regression analysis summary for knowledge of SPs, perceived barriers, perceived adequate of training, management support, influence of nursing staff, and year of study predicting compliance of SPs among nursing students (n = 612)
      Independent variablesBβP value
      Knowledge of SPs0.0030.105
      P < .01.
      .009
      Perceived barriers−0.153−0.191
      P < .001.
      <.001
      Perceived adequate of training0.1060.12
      P < .01.
      .004
      Perceived management support0.0690.092
      P < .05.
      .026
      Perceived influence of nursing staff−0.076−0.09
      P < .05.
      .031
      Year of study0.0000.001NS
      Constant4.049
      NOTE. Adjusted R2 = 0.122; F6,605 = 15.085; P < .001.
      NS, nonsignificant; SP, standard precaution.
      P < .01.
      P < .001.
      P < .05.

      Power analysis

      The results of the study found 5 predictors for compliance of SPs with an R2 value of 12.2%. Power analysis was performed based on Cohen and Cohen.
      • Cohen J.
      • Cohen P.
      Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences.
      The population effect size for the R2 value of 0.12 was equaled to R2/1 – R2 (ie, 0.12/1 – 0.12 = 0.14). With α = 0.05 and a sample size of 678, the study's multiple regression model would have the power of >0.99 with independent variables <100.
      • Cohen J.
      • Cohen P.
      Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences.

      Discussion

      To our knowledge, this is the first study with a large sample size of 678 NSs participating in a study on SPs. The results of the study found that the compliance of SPs among NSs was high; this is consistent with findings in Italy
      • Bergamini M.
      • Cucchi A.
      • Stefanati A.
      • Cavallaro A.
      • Gabutti G.
      Knowledge of preventive measures against occupational risks and spread of healthcare-associated infections among nursing students. An epidemiological prevalence study from Ferrara, Italy.
      and Korea.
      • Kim K.M.
      • Kim M.A.
      • Chung Y.S.
      • Kim N.C.
      Knowledge and performance of the universal precautions by nursing and medical students in Korea.
      Furthermore, compared with self-reported results from registered nurses, it is encouraging to know that NSs might comply with SPs more frequently than registered nurses.

      Interaction effects

      The findings of this study found that second- and third-year students' SPs compliance were significantly affected by the nursing staff's infection control practice in the wards. Furthermore, year 3 NSs had the lowest SPs compliance in the 4-year undergraduate program. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing is a 4-year program in Hong Kong. First- and second-year NSs are supervised by university clinical instructors, whereas second-year specialty and third- and fourth-year students were supervised by nursing staff in the clinical venue. It would be logical for the first year NSs to follow the SPs taught in the school because they were supervised by university clinical instructors. However, it is noteworthy that NSs were particularly affected by the nursing staff in the ward in their second and third year but not fourth year of clinical placement. Perhaps, the qualitative interview study results
      • Ward D.J.
      Infection control in clinical placements: experiences of nursing and midwifery students.
      conducted in the UK might provide some explanations. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing is a 3-year program in the UK, but only second- and third-year NSs were involved in the Ward study.
      • Ward D.J.
      Infection control in clinical placements: experiences of nursing and midwifery students.
      The study results found that poor practice by nursing staff observed by the NSs could have both negative and positive effects on their infection control practices. Some NSs would lower their infection control standards to fit in with the ward practice, whereas some would reflect on the poor practice observed and strive to maintain a high level of infection control practice. Furthermore, NSs' confidence on their infection control practice accumulated over their course of study, and this also increased their possibility of reporting poor infection control practice.
      • Ward D.J.
      Infection control in clinical placements: experiences of nursing and midwifery students.
      This might explain why fourth-year NSs were not as affected by nursing staff as much as those in their second and third years because they have the confidence to practice what they believe as the proper infection control practices.

      Predictors for compliance of SPs

      The results of this study found that knowledge, training, management support of SPs, barriers to SPs, and nursing staff influence were the predictors for NSs' SPs compliance. The purpose of the HBM is to identify the factors which can improve the likelihood of compliance to SPs among NSs. However, the underlying reasons why NSs might be affected by those factors might not be well explained by the HBM. Theory-in-use
      • Argyris C.
      • Schon D.A.
      Organizational learning II: theory, method, and practice.
      might shine some light on the explanation of such findings in the present study. To apply the theory in the context of SPs compliance, theory-in-use is the performance of the behaviors related to the SPs compliance, whereas espoused theory is to explain or justify the behaviors related to the SPs compliance. Argyris and Schon
      • Argyris C.
      • Schon D.A.
      Organizational learning II: theory, method, and practice.
      explained that theory-in-use (ie, actual practice and self-reported practice) of an individual worker is shaped by espoused theory, that is, his/her formal (eg, policies, guidelines) and informal (eg, observation, organizational culture) learning in the workplace. In terms of SPs compliance among NSs, increasing SPs knowledge, providing more SPs training, promoting a safety climate (management support), reducing identified SPs barriers, and improving nursing staff compliance to SPs would enhance NSs' SPs compliance.

      Clinical implications

      The results of the study indicated that more attention should be paid to NSs under the supervision of the clinical staff in the clinical venues, particularly in their junior-year period. Both qualitative studies in the UK
      • Ward D.J.
      Infection control in clinical placements: experiences of nursing and midwifery students.
      • Barret R.
      • Randle J.
      Hand hygiene practices: nursing students’ perceptions.
      found that NSs intended to fit in with the clinical practices even though they knew the clinical staff did not comply with the SPs. In addition, NSs worried that their clinical performance evaluation would be negatively affected if they confronted the clinical staff about their improper infection control practices.
      • Barret R.
      • Randle J.
      Hand hygiene practices: nursing students’ perceptions.
      As a result, a comprehensive supporting program empowering students is recommended. Before clinical placement, assertiveness training
      • Barret R.
      • Randle J.
      Hand hygiene practices: nursing students’ perceptions.
      coupled with communication skills is suggested to empower NSs to handle challenges in the hierarchical clinical placement environment. Simultaneously, workshops for clinical mentors are recommended to inform them of the intended learning outcomes of the clinical placement and the expectations of the programs. The evidence-based effect of role modeling of clinical mentors to NSs would be emphasized in the workshops.

      Limitation of the study

      One of the limitations of this study is the sampling from 1 university, and hence the results might not be generalizable to NSs from other universities. Nonresponse bias and subjectivity of the self-report study are other limitations. Although many people's self-reported responses are based on their actual performance,
      • Titler M.G.
      Programme evaluation.
      their recall might be questionable. Further studies using an observational design might be an alternative approach where NSs are observed objectively by an observer to determine their SPs compliance. In addition, further research should be conducted to explore the phenomena of the influence of nursing staff on NSs in the clinical settings. In addition, current studies seem to indicate that NSs have higher SPs compliance than nursing staff. After graduating from their university studies, at what point does compliance of SPs of junior nursing staff start to decline? Are they influenced by the existing senior nursing staff in the unit? What is the influence of the organizational culture? Answering these questions might shine light to establish appropriate strategies to improve the SPs compliance among nursing staff.

      Conclusions

      The result of the study indicates that NSs from various years of study have high compliance on SPs. Interaction effects were found: year 2 and year 3 NSs were significantly affected by the nursing staff's infection control practice in the units. Furthermore, knowledge, training, management support, barriers, and nursing staff influence were the predictors for compliance of SPs. Assertiveness training coupled with communication skills training should be implemented to empower NSs to handle the challenges in the hierarchical clinical placement environment. Future studies using an observational design on SPs compliance among NSs and studies to explore the influence of nursing staff to NSs and junior nursing staff are recommended.

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