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Outpatient healthcare personnel knowledge and attitudes towards infection prevention measures for protection from respiratory infections

      Highlights

      • Healthcare personnel knowledge of infection prevention measures is suboptimal
      • Baseline attitudes toward medical masks and N95 respirators were negative.
      • Participants' attitudes improved significantly during each respiratory virus season
      • Improved infection control education in the outpatient setting is needed

      Background

      Healthcare personnel (HCP) knowledge and attitudes toward infection control measures are important determinants of practices that can protect them from transmission of infectious diseases.

      Methods

      Healthcare personnel were recruited from Emergency Departments and outpatient clinics at seven sites. They completed knowledge surveys at the beginning and attitude surveys at the beginning and end of each season of participation. Attitudes toward infection prevention and control measures, especially medical masks and N95 respirators, were compared. The proportion of participants who correctly identified all components of an infection control bundle for seven clinical scenarios was calculated.

      Results

      The proportion of participants in the medical mask group who reported at least one reason to avoid using medical masks fell from 88.5% on the pre-season survey to 39.6% on the post-season survey (odds ratio [OR] for preseason vs. postseason 0.11, 95% CI 0.10-0.14). Among those wearing N95 respirators, the proportion fell from 87.9% to 53.6% (OR 0.24, 95% CI 0.21-0.28). Participants correctly identified all components of the infection control bundle for 4.9% to 38.5% of scenarios.

      Conclusions

      Attitudes toward medical masks and N95 respirators improved significantly between the beginning and end of each season. The proportion of HCP who correctly identified the infection control precautions needed for clinical scenarios was low, but it improved over successive years of participation in the study.

      Key Words

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