Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Occupational Exposure to Blood: Search for a Relation Between Personality and Behavior

  • Christian Rabaud (a1), Agnès Zanea (a2), Jean Marie Mur (a3), Marie Françoise Blech (a1), Didier Dazy (a3), Thierry May (a4) and Francis Guillemin (a5)...

To describe the behavior of French nurses after occupational exposure to blood (OEB); to study the reasons for not reporting an OEB to the occupational medicine service or the hospital authorities, and to explore the links between personality traits and both the risk of having an OEB and the likelihood of reporting it.


A descriptive and correlational study using a cross-sectional survey for data collection.


Six nursing schools (four initial training institutes and two specialty training schools, one for surgical nurses and one for nurse anesthetists) and six hospitals in Lorraine.


942 nurses and 459 nursing students were approached, and 964 (69%) replied to the questionnaire.


The participants received an anonymous two-part questionnaire. The first part explored the knowledge of the risk and Standard Precautions and collected details of the history of OEB. Reporting of OEB to the occupational medicine service or the hospital authorities and the nature of serological monitoring after OEB also were explored. The second part was composed of the Zuckerman sensation-seeking scale, exploring four areas: disinhibition, danger- and adventure-seeking, seeking new experiences, and susceptibility to boredom.


947 nurses were vaccinated against hepatitis B, but only 528 (56%) had checked that they were effectively immunized. Only 166 respondents (17%) stated they routinely used gloves during all procedures in which they were exposed to blood. There were 505 recorded OEB during the study period (0.24 per person per year). The most frequently reported OEB were those involving hollow needles (57%). Approximately one half (48.5%) of all OEB were reported. “Good local antisepsis immediately after the accident” was the reason most often given to justify nonreporting. Only 57% of OEB victims sought to determine the serological status of the source patient for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and hepatitis B virus immediately after accident. Only 40% and 31% of OEB victims checked their own HIV and HCV serostatus 3 and 6 months after OEB, respectively. Few staff adopted safer-sex measures after OEB, and some continued to donate blood in subsequent months. Logistic regression identified two variables significantly and independently linked to the risk of having at least one OEB in the 27 months preceding the date on which the questionnaire was completed: having a permanent position and having a higher degree of disinhibition. Taking into account the number of OEB during this period (Poisson regression), four variables were significantly and independently linked to the risk of having a larger number of OEB: having a permanent position; having a higher degree of disinhibition; being more susceptible to boredom; and having less nursing experience. In logistic regression, three variables emerged as being significantly and independently linked to reporting all OEB: younger age; having had at least one percutaneous injury (excluding splashes); and having lower susceptibility to boredom.


Nursing personnel continue to ignore or be unaware of many factors surrounding OEB, meaning that information and counseling must continue unabated. Knowledge of the risk, of the benefit of respecting Standard Precautions, and of the importance of notification and serological follow-up is still inadequate. Finally, certain personality traits, such as a high level of disinhibition and susceptibility to boredom, appear to be linked to the risk of OEB. Subjects strongly susceptible to boredom are less likely to report such accidents.

Corresponding author
Service de Maladies Infectieuses et Tropicales, CHU de Nancy—Hôpitaux de Brabois, Allée du Morvan, 54511 Vandoeuvre les Nancy Cedex, France
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

3. DM Cardo , DH Culver , C Ciesielski , PV Srivastava , R Marcus , D Abiteboul , et al. A case-control study of HIV seroconversion in health care workers after percutaneous exposure. N Engl J Med 1997;337:14851490.

4. C Rabaud , ML Lepori , MC Vignaud , C Martin , T May , P Canton . Les accidents avec exposition au sang (AES) au CHU de Nancy: enquête sur le comportement du personnel vis à vis du risque de contamination VIH. Med Mal Infect 1996;26:327331.

6. M Zuckerman , EA Kolin , L Price , I Zoobe . Development of a sensation-seeking scale. J Consult Clin Psychol 1964;28:477482.

7. M Zuckerman . Dimensions of sensation seeking. J Consult Clin Psychol 1971;36:4552.

9. M Zuckerman , S Eysenck , HJ Eysenck . Sensation seeking in England and America: cross cultural, age and sex comparisons. J Consult Clin Psychol 1978;46:139149.

11. K Alimonos , AN Nafziger , J Murray , JS Bertino Jr. Prediction of response to hepatitis B vaccine in health care workers: whose titers of antibody to hepatitis B surface antigen should be determined after a three-dose series, and what are the implications in terms of cost-effectiveness? Clin Infect Dis 1998;26:566571.

12. T Mitsui , K Iwano , S Suzuki , C Yamazaki , K Masuko , F Tsuda , et al. Combined hepatitis B immune globulin and vaccine for postexposure prophylaxis of accidental hepatitis B virus infection in hemodialysis staff members: comparison with immune globulin without vaccine in historical controls. Hepatology 1989;10:324327.

13. EA Bolyard , OC Tablan , WW Williams , ML Pearson , CN Shapiro , SD Deitchman , et al. Guidelines for infection control in healthcare personnel, 1998. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 1998;19:407463.

14. D Palmovic , J Crnjakovi-Palmovic . Prevention of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in health-care workers after accidental exposure: a comparison of two prophylactic schedules. Infection 1993;21:4245.

19. S Burke , I Madan . Contamination incidents among doctors and midwives: reasons for non-reporting and knowledge of risks. Occup Med 1997;47:357360.

23. BH Hamory . Underreporting of needlestick injuries in a university hospital. Am J Infect Control 1983;11:174177.

24. DJ Haiduven , SM Simpkins , ES Phillips , DA Stevens . A survey of percutaneous/mucocutaneous injury reporting in a public teaching hospital. J Hosp Infect 1999;41:151154.

25. J Waterman , R Jankowski , I Madan . Under-reporting of needlestick injuries by medical students. J Hosp Infect 1994;26:149153.

26. BL Kirkpatrick , VE Ricketts , DS Reeves , AP MacGowan . Needlestick injuries among medical students. J Hosp Infect 1993;23:315317.

27. MJ Alter , HS Margolis , K Krawczynski , FN Judson , A Mares , WJ Alexander , et al. The natural history of community-acquired hepatitis C in the United States. N Engl J Med 1992;327:18991905.

28. R Ridzon , K Gallagher , C Cielsielski , MB Ginsberg , BJ Roberston , CC Luo , et al. Simultaneous transmission of HIV and HCV from a needlestick injury. N Engl J Med 1997;336:919922.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology
  • ISSN: 0899-823X
  • EISSN: 1559-6834
  • URL: /core/journals/infection-control-and-hospital-epidemiology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Abstract views

Total abstract views: 62 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 26th March 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.