Pre-registered Nursing students beliefs, attitudes and perceived knowledge of Hepatitis C and standard universal precautions.
[Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)]
Hepatitis C is a growing health issue. With no cure or vaccine in sight, and the burden and cost of the disease proving expensive to both the National Health Service and the patient, its increase in incidence is worth noting, especially since the implementation of universal precautions can help reduce the spread of infection. Yet many studies have documented a lack of basic knowledge and understanding with regards to the disease or compliance with infection control, amongst registered health professionals. This can have negative effects on patient as care, and lead to discriminatory practice. As a result, the aim of this study is to explore pre-registration nursing students perceived knowledge, attitudes and beliefs surrounding Hepatitis C and universal precautions.
A qualitative approach was adopted, and eight semi-structured interviews were performed on pre-registration nurses on the masters and Diploma/Degree programme. Interviews were transcribed, coded and interpreted using thematic analysis. The four themes of General knowledge and understanding of hepatitis C and universal precautions, Education and experience, the nurse’s role in hepatitis C management and Health Promotion, were identified.
The findings supported the literature as the student nurse’s demonstrated poor on basic hepatitis C knowledge, due to a lack of education and experience with the disease. This also had an effect on the quality of care they were able to give, as it prevented them for implementing health promotional interventions which help to decrease the incidences of infection. Attitudes towards hepatitis C patients were generally positive, yet evidences of discrimination against infected hepatitis C patients, was expressed particularly drug users. However this was not due to the stigma associated with such groups, but due to a ‘fear of contraction’. Participants were highly knowledgeable about the theory and principles of infection control, and thus associated needle use with hepatitis C transmission, which resulted in cautious behaviours amongst students, which could be translated as discriminatory.
It was therefore proposed that education needs to be more explicit within nursing training due to its influence on developing student’s knowledge with regards to hepatitis and universal precautions, and can help to clarify negative assumptions and beliefs about hepatitis C patients, in order to ensure care is provided that is of a high standard and free of judgement.
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