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Knowledge of Standard and Isolation Precautions in a Large Teaching Hospital

  • Hugo Sax (a1), Thomas Perneger (a2), Stéphane Hugonnet (a1), Pascale Herrault (a1), Marie-Noëlle Chraïti (a1) and Didier Pittet (a1)...

To assess the level of knowledge regarding and attitudes toward standard and isolation precautions among healthcare workers in a hospital.


A confidential, self-administered questionnaire survey was conducted in a random sample of 1,500 nurses and 500 physicians in a large teaching hospital.


A total of 1,241 questionnaires were returned (response rate, 62%). The median age of respondents was 39 years; 71.9% were women and 21.2% had senior staff status. One-fourth had previously participated in specific training regarding transmission precautions for pathogens conducted by the infection control team. More than half (55.9%) gave correct answers to 10 or more of the 13 knowledge-type questions. The following reasons for noncompliance with guidelines were judged as “very important”: lack of knowledge (47%); lack of time (42%); forget-Mness (39%); and lack of means (28%). For physicians and healthcare workers in a senior position, lack of time and lack of means were significantly less important (P < .0005). On multivariate linear regression, knowledge was independently associated with exposure to training sessions (coefficient, 0.33; 95% confidence interval, 0.08 to 0.57; P = .009) and less professional experience (coefficient per increasing professional experience, -0.024; 95% confidence interval, -0.035 to -0.012; P < .0005).


Despite a training effort targeting opinion leaders, knowledge of transmission precautions for pathogens remained insufficient. Nevertheless, specific training proved to be the major determinant of “good knowledge”.

Corresponding author
Infection Control Program, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Geneva Hospitals, 1211 Geneva 14,
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Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology
  • ISSN: 0899-823X
  • EISSN: 1559-6834
  • URL: /core/journals/infection-control-and-hospital-epidemiology
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