Infection prevention and control learning and practice in pre-registration undergraduate nursing: the sociological influences of the clinical environment

Peta-Anne Zimmerman 1,2,3, Julia Gilbert 1Lynne Brown 1, Ramon Shaban 1,2,3

School of Nursing and Midwifery, Griffith University, Southport, QLD, Australia

Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia

Menzies Health Institute Queensland, QLD, Australia


Introduction: This study explores factors influencing the infection prevention and control practice of pre-registration nursing students to identify methods to support their clinical experience.

Methods: This cross-sectional study employed: 1) a previously validated questionnaire examining variables that influence students’ infection prevention and control practice in the clinical environment, and 2) focus groups/interviews exploring survey findings. A non-probability sample of nursing students enrolled in a pre-registration undergraduate nursing degree at an Australian university and employed clinical facilitators were invited to participate. Survey data were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics. Focus group/interview data was subjected to thematic analysis.

Results: The infection control practices of the majority of students sampled were positively influenced primarily by their university education and the good practice of their clinical mentors. 52% (102/195) reported they would ignore poor practice in the clinical environment and perform hand hygiene as they had been instructed at university. Meanwhile 41.5% (81/195) indicated they would attempt to correct poor practice in others. A small percentage (7.7%, 4/52) of senior students indicated that they would comply with poor practice, where none of the junior group indicated this. Clinical facilitators reported this later phenomenon to be because poor practice became normalised by the students as they proceeded through their degree.
Conclusion: Sociological dimensions of infection control practice for student nurses are important and hence preparation for these needs to occur at the undergraduate curricula level. This study will assist in informing the focus of these preparations for a future interventional project.

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