Perceived knowledge of blood-borne pathogens and avoidance of contact with infected patients

Ilya Kagan*, Karin Lee Ovadia, Tami Kaneti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To examine the relationship between nurses' knowledge of blood-borne pathogens (BBPs), their professional behavior regarding handwashing, compliance with standard precautions (SPs), and avoidance of therapeutic contact with BBP-infected patients. Design: This cross-sectional design study took place in a regional medical center in Central Israel during 2003. Methods: Of the 180 participants, 159 (88.3%) were women with an average educational level of 16.40 years (SD=2.66). The mean age of the sample was 39.41 (SD=10.1). Data were collected using a structured questionnaire including sociodemographic information, level of knowledge concerning three BBPs (human immunodeficiency virus [HIV], hepatitis B virus [HBV], and hepatitis C virus [HCV]), level of compliance with SPs, understanding of SP principles, and avoidance of therapeutic contact with BBP-infected patients. Findings: Levels of HIV-related knowledge were significantly higher than were those of HBV- and HCV-related knowledge. Only 96 participants (54.5%) stated that all patients should be treated as BBP-carriers. The understanding of the basic principle of SPs did not influence the relationship between perceived knowledge and self-reported compliance with SPs; 77.3% of the sample reported that they avoid therapeutic contact with BBP-infected patients. The level of perceived knowledge did not contribute to the nurses' avoidance of care of BBP carriers. Conclusions: Perceived knowledge of BBPs has a weak effect on compliance with SPs and willingness to care for BBP-infected patients. Recommendations: Nurses must identify their preconceptions when caring for BBP-carriers. Further research on this issue is needed to attempt to understand the forces acting on our nursing staff, in order to ensure appropriate care of BBP-infected patients. Clinical Relevance: Our study indicated some reluctance among nurses to care for patients with blood-borne pathogens. This appears to be the result of value systems and not a lack of knowledge, indicating a need to integrate a psychoeducational approach to education of nurses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-19
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nursing Scholarship
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Avoidance of therapeutic contact
  • Blood-borne pathogens
  • Handwashing
  • Infected patients
  • Knowledge about blood-borne pathogens


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